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Nepal's opposition rejects sitting CJ proposal
Publication Date : 13-02-2013
The propasal forwarded by the Unified Communisty Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN) to entrust the responsibility of holding elections to sitting Chief Justice (CJ) Khil Raj Regmi landed in hot water on Tuesday after opposition parties rejected the proposal outright.
Two rounds of talks among top leaders of the UCPN (Maoist), the Nepali Congress (NC), the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN-UML) and the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha failed to make headway after Maoist leaders insisted that there was no need for Regmi to resign to head the interim election government.
NC and UML negotiators argued that making the same person the chief of both the executive and the judiciary will be against the fundamental principles of separation of powers. Opposition parties instead suggested that they could accept Regmi as the new prime minister if he resigns as the CJ.
“We are ready to consider Khil Raj Regmi as the neutral prime ministerial candidate only if he resigns,” said UML leader Agni Kharel. “However, the Maoists are not ready to compromise on their stand. We strongly feel that the Maoists floated this objectionable proposal to prolong their stay in government.”
Top leaders from both the NC and the UML have been under strong pressure from their party rank-and-file since they agreed to consider a CJ-led government on Monday as a possible meeting point to end the political deadlock. In internal party deliberations held separately on Tuesday, cadres criticised the leadership for “falling into the Maoist trap.”
On the other hand, Maoist leaders are in favour of Regmi continuing as the CJ and head of an Advisory Council that will be responsible for conducting elections in May. They argued that the party is ready to entrust the responsibility to conduct free and fair elections to the CJ as an institution, not in Regmi’s individual capacity.
In Tuesday’s three-hour talks with ruling party leaders, NC and UML leaders suggested that they could accept any of the retired chief justices, a civil society personality or any political figure as the next PM. Some leaders even advised their leadership to be open to accepting Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal as an alternative candidate.
Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, who attended Tuesday’s talks on behalf of the Madhesi Morcha, said the Morcha is ready to consider any of the options, including the formation of a CJ-led government, to ensure early elections.
Cross-party talks are likely to remain deadlocked for the next few days if differences between the ruling and opposition parties continue. And chances of elections being held in May will officially come to an end and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s stay in government will be prolonged if parties fail to formalise a deal within the next few days.
Major party leaders have also been discussing alternative candidates, including retired chief justices and a former speaker. “We are ready to take any measure to remove Bhattarai. We will be flexible on finding a new prime minister from within the parties,” said UML Secretary Yubaraj Gyawali.