Headway on amendment unlikely till after festival season

Published On: October 5, 2016 12:20 AM NPT By: Nabin Khatiwada

KATHMANDU, Oct 5: With the festival season starting to grip the country, any headway on constitutional amendment now seems unlikely for at least a month.
Though Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has succeeded in convincing the agitating Madhes-based parties that the government is working on the amendment, the government is yet to start drafting an amendment bill.
Dahal, who became prime minister after inking an agreement with the Madhes-based parties on constitutional amendment, had convinced the agitating parties that the amendment proposal would be drafted before the Dashain festival. However, it is almost certain that the deadline will be missed.
"The government has been doing the preparatory work and creating an environment for political consensus on constitutional amendment," said Minister for Defense Bal Krishna Khand.
The Madhes-based parties are aware of the situation and hope that the government will complete drafting the  amendment bill ahead of the Tihar festival.
"We are hopeful that the government will come up with an amendment proposal ahead of the Tihar festival," said Rajendra Mahato, chairman of Sadbhavana Party, adding that if it does not happen by then, the Madhes might resume protests after Chhath.
Minister Khand said that the top political leaders are of a mind to utilize the festival period for dialogue on constitution-related issues.
"It took time to give full shape to the government and right after it got full shape, the government started holding talks within the parties in the coalition as well as other parties," said Khand, who is also a Nepali Congress leader. The political leadership would surely utilize the festival period to engage in political dialogue and seek to forge consensus, he added.
"So far as I am concerned, political consensus will develop by the end of festival season and the Constitution will be amended soon after the festivals," Khand further said.  
Likewise, the government is yet to register the bills related to local elections in Parliament though its ministers have been making public claims about being able to hold those polls by April.
   Work on restructuring local level units could not gain momentum as expected after disputes arose over the number of local units. The commission formed to fix the number and boundaries of local units said on Tuesday  that it is unlikely to submit its report by mid-November. The Election Commission has been reiterating that it needs at least four months' time to hold elections even if restructuring and the necessary legal set-up are already in place.
"Some bills relating to the elections have already been registered in Parliament and we are working on other bills also," said Minister Khand adding that they are also consulting the authorities and agencies concerned. 
Although the government has been saying that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission on Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) Act would be amended soon, an amendment bill is yet to be finalized. Meanwhile, the original two-year tenure of the transitional justice mechanisms will end in the next three months.
"The government is serious about concluding the remaining work of the peace process, and we have been doing our homework in consultation with the stakeholders concerned," Khand said, adding further that the government is in no mood to delay any bill. There would be a favorable political environment by the end of the festival season and all work related to constitution implementation would gain momentum then, he claimed. 

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