Experts for bringing UML on board amendment

Published On: December 7, 2016 02:39 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Dec 7: As political polarization grows in the wake of the government registering a seven-point constitutional amendment bill in Parliament last week, political analysts have suggested that the main ruling parties start negotiations with the CPN-UML to bring it on board the amendment process and thus avert a looming constitutional crises.

Arguing that any move to push the amendment bill on the basis of numerical strength in Parliament would eventually drive the country towards a fresh round of conflict and effectively blight the prospects of holding three tiers of elections by January 2018, they maintained that the best way forward now would be to put the amendment bill on hold and first seek a consensus among the three major parties.

Political analyst Bishnu Sapkota said the government should first engage with the main opposition party so that it does not feel it is being pushed to the wall on the crucial issue of constitutional amendment.

“The best thing the ruling parties can do at this point is to reach out to the UML to forge a basic minimum agreement on the amendment bill. The three parties can then reach out together to the agitating Madhes-based parties to address their concerns,” he said. 

The amendment bill that, among other things, proposes to split the hill districts away from Province 5 to address the demands of the agitating Madhes-based parties, has not only brought the UML out onto the streets but also ignited protests from people living in the various in mid-western  hill districts. The bill has not pleased the agitating Madhes-based parties either.

Sapkota argued that putting the amendment bill on hold and simultaneously reaching out to the UML and the agitating parties would help  avoid confrontation among the major political forces. “While this will create a win-win situation for all the stakeholders, it will also douse the flames of protest seen in various mid-western hills and plains districts in the past several days,” he further said. 

Echoing these sentiments, Tula Narayan Sah, another political analyst and also a Madhes activist, argued that the two main ruling parties have to initiate discussions with the UML on three key issues--constitution amendment, impeachment of Lok Man Singh Karki and a future power sharing deal-- to provide a way out for the country.

“I think the political process will not move forward unless the UML is brought on board the process. Someone has to initiate discussions on these three issues. And so much the better if the ruling parties open this box without further delay,” he further said. 

Once the three parties reach a basic minimum agreement on the amendment including the revising of federal delineations, the major parties can  reach out to the Madhes-based parties, he argued. “I do not see any reason for the UML protest against the amendment bill. The United Democratic Madhesi Front does not have any reason to be unhappy with the bill either,” Sah further said, adding that both sides need to exercise flexibility.  

While the impeachment motion against Karki was registered by the UML, the amendment bill was tabled by the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Center). 

Similarly, political analyst and constitutional expert Nilamber Acharya criticized the ruling parties for sidelining the second largest party in Parliament for the sake of appeasing some Madhes-based parties.

“What the ruling parties are doing now is against the spirit of the Constitution. This provisional parliament cannot take such a deision,” he said, arguing that major political parties should sit together to prepare for the next election.

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