by Punjita Pradhan
KATHMANDU, May 25 (Xinhua) - A new agreement has been reached between the major political parties of Nepal in order to promulgate the much anticipated constitution by the given deadline of May 27.
The three major parties Unified Communist Party of Nepal- Maoists (UCPN-M Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) made the agreement Friday morning.
The Madhesi Front, also a part of the coalition government, remained aloof from the three party agreements, stating that the front did not support any agreement which failed to address the issue of federalism.
As per the agreement, the disputed issues which are yet to be resolved in the making of the new constitution will be handed over to the Constituent Assembly (CA) which will, after the drafting of the new constitution, be transformed into a legislature parliament.
In brief, the government of Nepal will release a constitution which is unfinished and the remaining issues will later be discussed and promulgated in the transformed legislature parliament.
The agreement, however, commits that the political parties will form a consensus regarding the number of provinces along with their names, a dominant issue in the CA which caused communities to organize series of strikes putting forth their demands.
Prior to this, the government had drafted a bill for the proposal of the extension of CA for next three months despite the Supreme Court (SC) verdict that May 27 would be the final deadline after which no extension of CA could take place. Following the government's proposal to extend the CA term, SC on Thursday ordered the government to stop processing the extension of the CA.
The verdict also highlights that the given failure to promulgate the constitution by May 27, the CA will have to opt for other constitutional provision like an election or referendum rather than extending the CA term. Given the CA's failure to promulgate the constitution, the CA stands in a high chance of being dissolved.
The SC also charged the Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Minister for Law and Justice Krishna Prasad Sitaula on contempt of court plea and asked for a written clarification with an appearance at the court within 7 days.
In the meantime, Sitaula who is also the General Secretary of Nepali Congress resigned from the post of Deputy Prime Minister in the current government along with NC leader and Minister for Federal Affairs Surya Man Gurung, implying that their party had backed out of the new consensus government amidst the CA extension issue. Their resignation has not yet been approved.
The CA which had the mandate for only two years after it was formed in 2008 has been extended for four years by making four amendments in the Interim Constitution.
Meanwhile, in a turn of events, despite the agreement, the ruling faction of UCPN-M declared that the SC's verdict was wrong and announced that the party would begin fresh agitation if the CA would be dissolved without promulgating the constitution.
The meeting that took place only between the Madhesi Front and the UCPN-M on Friday morning before the meeting of the three major political parties agreed that Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai will still lead the government.
PM Bhattarai has been facing huge amount of pressure from other political parties to tender a resignation for his failure to promulgate a new constitution on the given deadline and for his attempt to extend the CA term.
Expressing his opinion regarding the issue of promulgation of CA in the given deadline, Director of Centre for South Asian Studies in Kathmandu Nishchal N Pandey said that the constitution would be a premature one.
"There are two challenges for the Nepali political process at the moment. First is the promulgation of the Constitution by the stipulated deadline of May 27 but equally important is for the new Constitution to be acceptable to all groups within the country," Pandey said.
He further said that the failure to achieve either of the two will push the country to another sequel of violence and instability.
"The new constitution needs to emerge as a document of national consensus so that the country moves on a path of peace and prosperity," Pandey told Xinhua.