PM: Let’s continue talks on federalism as draft panel looks into dispute
KATHMANDU, APR 09 – A day after the UCPN (Maoist)-led 30-party opposition alliance called off a general strike, the major political parties returned to the negotiating table on Wednesday in a bid to find consensus on federalism—the most contentious issue of new constitution.
Second-rung Maoist leaders, who were tasked by the party leadership to hold talks with the Nepali Congress leaders, asked Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to take the lead in resolving the disputed issues of the constitution through consensus.
“We have taken the deferral of CA proceedings by a week as a gesture of continuing consensus for the constitution writing process. So, our intent is to seek consensus within the extended deadline of April 13,” said Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara, after the meeting with PM Koirala.
The Maoist leaders have asked PM Koirala also to take other parties into confidence to forge an understanding on the numbers, names and borders of the units to be adopted in the new federal set-up. Insisting that he has always been in favour of promulgating the constitution through consensus, Koirala reportedly assured the opposition leaders that the federalism row would be resolved through dialogue.
“I am the one who has repeatedly asked you to return to the negotiating table for drafting the constitution through consensus,” Nepali Congress Spokesperson Dilendra Prasad Badu quoted PM Koirala as saying.
PM Koirala has assured that the new constitution would be promulgated by bridging the trust gap among all the stakeholders, according to Badu.
As part of institutionalising achievements gained through the 2006’s People’s Movement, the PM has proposed the Maoist leaders to agree on forwarding all the constitutional issues to the drafting committee and continue negotiations on
Despite resolving almost all of the issues of new constitution, the parties are still at odds over model of federalism.
The ruling NC and UML, which command two-thirds majority in the 601-member CA, have proposed for a seven-province model while the opposition parties are in favour of federating the country into eight provinces if the provincial assemblies are to be authorised for naming the provinces.
The main opposition Maoist party is also open to federating the country into six provinces if other parties agree on multiple identity-based federalism.
But they are considering various alternatives with the aim to reach an understanding on the key issue of the new constitution.
“Discussions are being held on multiple options, ranging from forming a federal commission to decide the fate of units, holding a referendum and forming separate provinces incorporating disputed districts and other parties of the districts,” Badu explained.
The questionnaires on how to resolve disputed issues have already been formulated by the CA Secretariat, with the CA chairman asking the parties to come up with a joint proposal by April 13.