PM calls for Nov 22 election; NC, UML, Baidya oppose
KATHMANDU, May 27: Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai late Sunday night announced a fresh election to the Constituent Assembly for November 22 despite opposition from his coalition partners.
The ministers representing the CPN-UML, Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) and other coalition partners walked out of the cabinet meeting which took the decision to call for fresh polls.
The decision has come after the CA term expired on Sunday. Prime Minister Bhattarai argued that the government was compelled to take the move. “There was no alternative
[of the election] ...,” he said in a televised address to the nation, minutes before the CA term expired.
Issuing a joint statement Nepali Congress parliamentary party leader Ram Chandra Paudel, CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal, Madhesi People’s Rights Forum-Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav and Rastriya Janashakti Party Co-Chairman Prakash Chandra Lohani opposed the decision.They said that they put all-out efforts to give continuity to the legislature-parliament by promulgating a constitution based on the agreements reached so far and entrusting responsibility to the transitional parliament to complete the remaining tasks. They claimed their sincere efforts went in vain due to the Maoist leaders’ reluctance.
“We tried our best to save the legislature-parliament and its achievements. But our proposals were not accepted,” the statement said. They accused the government of not listening to their concern that the fresh election can’t be announced without making some amendments to the interim constitution. The parties have accused the prime minister of trying to impose autocratic system by dissolving a most inclusively elected CA.They have demanded that the prime minister tender his resignation and pave the way for the formation of a national consensus government to save the country from a political quagmire.
Also, the UCPN (Maoist) dissident faction led by senior vice-chairman Mohan Baidya objected the government decision to go for fresh polls.
“This announcement made without the consent of other political parties and without any constitutional ground, is obviously unconstitutional,” said a statement issued by Baidya. “Therefore, we vehemently oppose it.”
Deputy Prime Minister and CPN-UML leader Ishwar Pokharel, Rastriya Prajatantra Party minister Parshuram Khapung, Minister Chandradev Joshi of CPN (Samyukta) and Kumar Belbase of CPN-ML, among others, announced their objection to the prime minister’s proposal for election.
PM Bhattari decided to opt for the new polls, after the last-minute efforts to find consensus at the CA chairman Subas Nembang’s office failed. Later, an emergency meeting of the Maoist standing committee decided to go for the fresh election.
Though the major political parties have opposed the decision, PM Bhattarai has urged for consensus among the parties.
“Though we failed to fulfill our duty this time, the people will be the judge. I do not want to blame anyone,” he said, adding, “We
cannot move ahead without forging political consensus.”
The prime minister said he continued to assume the executive powers and his government will hold the election.
Expressing sadness over the failure to draft the new constitution, the prime minister urged the people to move ahead united.
He said the government decided to go for the fresh election because drafting a forward-looking new constitution upholding the aspirations of Dalits, Janjatis, Muslims, and oppressed society was not possible before the end of the CA term.
Meanwhile, CPN-UML and Nepali Congress (NC) leaders opposed the prime minister’s decision. UML leader and former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal said his party and the NC have objected to the prime minister’s proposal to go for fresh elections.
Nepal said the ministers from his party walked out from the cabinet meeting as the prime minister, according to him, tabled the proposal for election all of a sudden without holding any discussion with other parties.
“The way the prime minister announced the election was completely against the constitution so we objected to this decision,” he explained. “The Maoists’ motive behind backtracking from the agreements reached with other parties is part of its strategy for capturing the state powers by force.”
Nepal also said the UCPN (Maoist) party is squarely responsible for the failure of CA and accused the Maoist leaders of never working sincerely for completing the constitution.
“They always believed in conspiracy and creating pressure on other parties instead of sincerely working for writing the constitution,” said Nepal. “At one time they [Maoists] encouraged lawmakers to launch signature campaign and then the Maoists provoked others [ethnic communities] to take to the street at such a crucial juncture.”
Also, NC General Secretary Krishna Sitaula said that the NC wouldn’t support the government decision to go for the new election. “The prime minister made the announcement as per the decision of the standing committee meeting of UCPN (Maoist) and not with the consent of other political parties,” said Sitaula.
CA chairman saddened
CA Chairman Subas Nembang expressed sadness over the failure to promulgate the new constitution from the CA. He said the CA failed to finalize the constitution despite the fact that a large part of the task of statute drafting had already been completed.
“This is very sad that we couldn’t promulgate new constitution due to differences over only a couple of issues although we had already completed the major tasks,” said Nembang. “We did our level best to forge consensus but in vain as leaders from major parties couldn’t agree on giving continuity to the legislature parliament which was the best option available before us.”
PM addresses nation.
Lawmakers from various parties staging demonstration inside CA building premises. They are demanding that the top brass meeting be convened at the CA building, not at the prime minister´s residence in Baluwatar. (Photo: Dipesh Shrestha)
Representatives from various ethnic and marginalized groups stating sit-in in New Baneshwor near the CA building. (Photo: Dipesh Shrestha)