Power-sharing ‘before full Cabinet’Coalition partners CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) are negotiating a deal on sharing the prime posts of President, Vice President and Speaker. Before the presidential election, the Speaker and deputy Speaker of Parliament will be chosen.
Coalition partners CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) are negotiating a deal on sharing the prime posts of President, Vice President and Speaker. Before the presidential election, the Speaker and deputy Speaker of Parliament will be chosen.
With both the parties claiming President’s post, a package deal is necessary. Formal talks on power-sharing are expected to begin on Tuesday.
Leaders from both the parties believe there may have been an understanding bet-ween Prime Minister KP Oli and Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on the matter but neither leader has shared it in their respective parties.
In a party meeting, Maoist Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha asked Dahal about his “secret understanding” with Oli. According to Shrestha, Dahal denied that he had talked to Oli about the presidential election.
In the UML, a leader close to Madhav Kumar Nepal said Oli had not consulted him and another senior leader Jhala Nath Khanal about power-sharing. There are also voices within the two communist parties that there should be consultation with the Nepali Congress on the appointment to the remaining posts.
They are of the view that if the NC was not taken into confidence, it would be difficult to amend the constitution in order to address the concerns of the Madhes-based parties and the Tharu community.
As the informal understanding between Oli and Dahal remains unclear, leaders from both the parties claim the President’s chair. UCPN (Maoist) leaders say that since they supported Oli as the PM, the President should be from their party.
“Without our support, it was impossible for Oli to become the prime minister. So the UML should give us the presidential post,” said Maoist leader Agni Sapkota. UML leaders claim that as the Maoist party would get a significant number of ministries, it should give up its claim for President. UML leaders said that they were ready to offer the post of Speaker to the Maoist party.
“The Maoists seem interested in the Speaker’s post, which means the President will be from the UML,” said leader Rajan Bhattarai. Without deciding these
matters, the UML and the Maoists are unable to prepare the lists of ministers from their parties.
A Maoist meeting on Monday only recommended one minister. A Maoist leader said there should be an agreement on the appointment of the President and the Speaker before the ministers may be finalised. According to Maoist sources, among Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, one will lead the party in the government and the other will become the Speaker if the party gives up the post of President.
If the Maoist party gets the presidential berth, the possible candidate remains undecided. Chairman Dahal has often rejected the top post. “The forces that were not in favour of constitution promulgation now propose me as the head of state,” Dahal told reporters after the Parliament meeting on Monday.
In UML, there are at least three contenders for the President—former PM Khanal, Vice-chairperson Bidhya Bhandari and incumbent Speaker Subas Nembang.
“Khanal is not keen to become the party chairman again so he wants to be the President. Oli favours Bhandari in the post while Speaker Nembang is also keen for the position,” said a UML leader.
Nembang has told a group of journalists that it was up to the parties to define his role with respect for his contribution to constitution-writing.