CA chair renews ultimatum - Nepal

CA chair renews ultimatum

KATHMANDU, MAR 19 – Constituent Assembly (CA) Chairman Subas Nembang has urged top leaders of the major political forces to invest another week to make consensus efforts.

In a strongly-worded speech over the lack of progress in the constitution writing, Nembang told the top leaders on Wednesday that he would resume the majority course if there is no consensus within March 25. The CA chair had initiated the majority process on January 25 amid protest from UCPN (Maoist) and Madhes-based parties.

Nembang believes that as the opposition parties have announced to boycott the programmes attended by the prime minister and ministers after March 11, there will not be consensus in such scenario. The head of constitution drafting body has taken an initiative to bring the ruling and opposition parties together.

The CA chair is of the view that the parties should give another shot at consensus to settle contentious issues of new constitution. If that is not forthcoming, the parties should agree on the CA process. Should the parties fail on both counts, they should be ready for the resumption of a majority process as per the legal and constitution provisions, he said.

“Parties can forge consensus within March 25 if they are willing to engage in discussions without any delay,” Nembang told reporters after the meeting with top leaders of Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, UCPN (Maoist) and Madhes-based parties. This is the first time that opposition parties have attended the meeting called by the CA chairman since he formed the Questionnaire Committee on January 25. The opposition parties had been refusing to sit for talks with Nembang, raising questions over his neutrality.

Nembang said that the CA meeting had been postponed to provide more time for consensus efforts. “I was expecting an agreement on contents of new constitution but the opposition came up with protest programmes,” he said, expressing strong dissatisfaction at the announcement of the protest. He has been urging the opposition parties to be a part of constitution drafting body.

In the meeting, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal warned that resuming the majority process would invite a grave crisis in the country.

Though the opposition has not yet decided to walk out of the CA, Dahal said, attempts to draft new constitution on the basis of numerical strength will end its relevancy. The UCPN (Maoist) has already warned of giving up on the CA process unless consensus approach is initiated without delay. “The resumption of the majority process will make our presence in the CA meaningless,” Dahal told reporters. He, however, said that the ruling parties, CA and other parties were still in favour of consensus.

While claiming their readiness for resolving disputes through consensus, the ruling parties say a CA meeting should be called to push the majority process if there is no consensus. They have assured the opposition the initiation of majority process would not block consensus efforts.