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Nepal parties sign deal for unity govt
Publication Date : 04-05-2012
Major political parties of Nepal on Thursday night signed a new power-sharing deal to form a consensus government under Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai within two days and hand over the leadership of the next national unity government to the Nepali Congress (NC) before the promulgation of the new constitution on May 27.
The NC-led government will conduct the next general elections in the country within a year, according to the five-point agreement signed by top leaders of three major political parties and the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha. All the 48 members of the current Cabinet tendered their resignation to PM Bhattarai on Thursday night to pave way for the new understanding.
The agreement revives the politics of consensus that was discontinued after the Constituent Assembly elections of April, 2008. Top leaders are upbeat about the new agreement, which according to them, guarantees the new constitution to be promulgated from the Constitutional Assembly within the remaining 24 days.
"This is a very important agreement for the country. It has created a strong basis for the promulgation of the constitution," Bhattarai told reporters after the signing-in ceremony at the Special Committee office.
All the four major forces have committed to be part of the new Cabinet under Bhattarai’s leadership.
The agreement commits that the new constitution will be promulgated before the May 27 deadline of the Constituent Assembly. Bhattarai will step down to pave way for a national unity government under the NC ahead of the constitution promulgation.
"Today’s agreement marks the climax of the political framework that has been guided by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim Constitution,” said NC General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula. “We will join the government and now concentrate on delivering the new constitution before May 27."
Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal said the agreement will ease the parties’ efforts in narrowing down differences on constitution drafting.
"I have been streessing that the new constitution will not come out untill there is a government of national consensus. Today’s understanding has taken us closer to our goal," he said.
Parties also said they will resolve contentious issues of constitution making, including forms of governance and state restructuring, within three days. Issues that cannot be settled at the political level will be put to vote so that the first draft can be prepared on a majority basis.
Leaders have said they will sit for talks on Friday to finalise portfolio allocation. "The issue is no longer complicated. We will decide on the matter on the basis of consensus," Sitaula, who is likely to lead the NC’s team in the new Cabinet, said.
Earlier, the deal, supposed to be signed on Thursday afternoon, was delayed following differences among the parties on the process of forming the unity government.
A section of leaders from the NC and the UML demanded that the PM resign along with members of his Cabinet to allow the formation of the new government under Article 38 (1) of the Interim Constitution.
Bhattarai was elected PM by securing a simple majority as per Article 38 (2) of the constitution. UML leaders KP Oli, among others, insisted on the resignation so that President Dr Ram Baran Yadav can invite parties to kickstart the process of forming a unity government.
Top leaders of the Madhesi Morcha stressed that Bhattarai should vacate the ministries to be given to the NC and the UML rather than "dissolve" the Cabinet. The ups and downs over the issue delayed the inking of the deal, which was drafted by a five-member taskforce comprising leaders from major parties and the PM himself.
Ministers from both the Maoist party and the Madhesi Morcha submitted their resignation to create an environment conducive to signing the new agreement. "We submitted our resignation to have the new constitution with federalism," said Hridayesh Tripathi, the outgoing minister for Physical Planning and Works.
The 5-point agreement
In the context of the resignation of all the members of the incumbent Cabinet, a new unity government will be formed under Baburam Bhattarai within two days as per the earlier seven-point agreement.
All issues of constitution drafting, including state restructuring, forms of governance, will be resolved within three days.
New statute will be promulgated before May 27. Before the promulgation, incumbent PM will resign and a unity government will be formed under NC. This government will hold elections in a year.
Outstanding work on peace process will be completed immediately as per the earlier agreements.
Top leaders will hold regular meetings to expedite constitution drafting process.