FSFN officially withdraws support to govt

Published On: March 16, 2017 12:50 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, March 16: Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN), one of the seven constituents of the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), on Wednesday informed Speaker Onsari Gharti in writing about its decision to withdraw support to the government. 

Although a UDMF leader while addressing the parliament meeting on Wednesday announced that the front was no longer with the ruling coalition, other six parties haven't officially notified the parliament secretariat about their decision so far. 

Besides FSFN, other constituents are Tarai-Madhes Democratic Party, Tarai-Madhes Sadbhavana Party, (TMDP), Madhesi People's Rights Forum-Republican, Sadbhavana Party, Sanghiya Sadbhavana Party and Rastriya Madhes Samajbadi Party.

Meanwhile later on Wednesday, a UDMF meeting  chaired by TMDP chief Mahantha Thakur decided to withdraw support to the government and adopt a policy of non-cooperation to the ruling coalition. The meeting decided to complete all the necessary procedures of pulling out the support to the government. The agitating front also announced to launch various protest programs.

FSFN's announcement came a day after the Madhes-based parties' seven-day ultimatum given to the government ended without their demands being addressed.  

Though the UDMF's decision to withdraw support to the government is unlikely to bring down the coalition government, it comes as a strategic loss to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal who formed the government last year with clear mandate to hold polls taking the disgruntled parties -- mainly the agitating Madhesi parties -- on board the political process.

Tarai Madhes Sadbhawana Party Chairman Mahandra Raya Yadav informed the parliament that the agitating front had decided to pull back its support to the incumbent government and it would formally apprise the Speaker about this afterward. 

"While submitting the ultimatum last week, we had clearly told the prime minister that the UDMF would withdraw its support if the demands are not met. As we all know that the government did nothing to address our concerns, I want to inform the parliament that the front is severing ties with the government," said Yadav.

Basudev Sharma, media coordinator of Speaker Gharti, however said the announcement does not have any legal validity unless the parties inform about their decision to the Speaker in writing.  

Last week, the UDMF had served a seven-day ultimatum to the government demanding that the latter postpone the local level elections and endorse the constitution amendment bill, which is under discussion in the parliament. The ultimatum expired on Tuesday.

Hours after Yadav's announcement in the parliament, Upendra Yadav-led FSFN submitted a letter to House Speaker Gharti notifying its withdrawal of support given to the government. It remains unclear whether other agitating parties in the front will follow suit.

Leaders of other parties associated with the front told Republica that they would also formally inform the speaker about their decision. But they refused to give any timeline.

"We have already informed the parliament and major parties in the governing alliance about the decision. We will follow other due process gradually," Tarai-Madhes Democratic Party Chairman Mahanta Thakur told Republica.

Thakur and some other Madhesi leaders were initially considering buying more time before cutting ties with the ruling alliance.

However, they have come under pressure to officially notify their withdrawal from the ruling coalition after the FSFN submitted the letter to the speaker.

Wednesday's announcement would not affect the ongoing negotiation with the government, leaders said. They said they are still willing to end the deadlock through negotiation at political level.

"Constitution amendment is our bottom line. If they agree to endorse the amendment bill through the parliament, we will take part in the polls. We will be forced to continue with protest if that doesn't happen," said Thakur.

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