No headway in resolving political disputes

Published On: September 1, 2016 05:00 AM NPT By: Nabin Khatiwada

KATHMANDU, Sept 1: The government has failed to gain any momentum in resolving the major political disputes, even as the Madhes-based parties are expressing dissatisfaction over the slow pace in starting discussions for constitutional amendment. The government, meanwhile, is also feeling the heat from the main opposition CPN-UML, which has been urging it to furnish justification for amending the constitution.

A meeting of the three major political parties, which was summoned by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Tuesday, witnessed some heated argument and concluded with the parties sticking to their own stances.The political parties have major differences regarding constitutional amendment as well as the restructuring of local bodies.

At the same time, the Madhes-based parties, which have been demanding a constitutional amendment, are warning that delay in discussing their political agenda could lead to a further crisis of confidence between them and the government.

"The government has started to address some general demands such as the declaring of martyrs and forming a judicial probe, but it is yet to start a political dialogue to resolve the major political agenda," said Upendra Yadav, chairman of the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, adding, "The prime minister should understand that the future of the government and the country itself rests with constitutional amendment."

"Constitutional amendment is an internal affair of Nepal, but instead of starting work on it within the country, the government is linking the issue with neighbors," he said.

 While electing Dahal as prime minister, the Madhes-based parties and the coalition of Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Center) had signed a three-point agreement, which includes a clause on amending the constitution through political consensus.

However, the main opposition CPN-UML has been giving the government a tough time, urging it to justify why the constitution should be amended at all and which issues should be covered.

"The constitution itself has set some deadlines and the elections to local bodies, provincial assemblies and the House of Representatives should be held in the next 17 months, but instead of focusing on constitution implementation, the government has busied itself over other issues," said UML Secretary Pradeep Gyawali.

"This proves that the present government is not there for implementing the constitution," he added.
Gyawali also argued that the government is unaware of the serious consequences that constitutional amendments carried out in line with the demands of Madhes-based parties could bring in society.

"In principle, we also accept that the constitution is a dynamic document but constitutional amendments to appease some regional political parties could result in further social tensions in the country," said Gyawali.

"On the other hand, there is no uniform and concrete vision among the leaders of the NC and Maoist Center regarding constitutional amendment. The ruling coalition could bring an amendment proposal in parliament just as a political stunt," he added.

However, Nepali Congress leader Purna Bahadur Khadka hopes that frequent political dialogues on the core agenda could make way for resolving the current political disputes.

"Nepali political parties have a unique culture of developing consensus in difficult situations. The only need is that the prime minister should increase the frequency of political dialogues as the change in government has created mistrust between the parties," said Khadka.

"Till now the prime minister had the excuse of being busy giving full shape to the government,  but he should now start a serious dialogue. The ruling coalition should come up with a concrete proposal for constitutional amendment so that it can be discussed with the opposition," he added.

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