The Constituent Assembly did not reach agreement by their final deadline last night on how many Federal districts Nepal should have, their geographical boundaries or, most contentiously, if they should be set up on ethnic lines.
Prime Minister Bhattarai recommended that President Yadav should dissolve the CA and hold elections for a new assembly on November 22. “We have no other option but to go back to the people and elect a new assembly to write the constitution,” he announced on TV. “We had completed the army integration process by taking a big risk and tried to forge consensus but the peace and the constitution drafting process could not move forward.” He said leaders of other parties were “not cooperating with the government’s move to draft the constitution based on the principle of federal structure”.
Bhatterai said executive powers now rest with him and his cabinet who will serve as the interim government and hold the election to replace themselves.
Five major parties promptly demanded Bhatterai’s resignation, declared his move “unconstitutional” and issued a joint statement: “The Prime Minister’s unilateral move to conduct fresh election by allowing to dissolve the most representative Constituent Assembly was aimed at capturing power and this has created frustration in the minds of the general public … It has ended the politics of consensus and created a situation in which people’s democratic rights are suppressed”. The public has long been more than frustrated, the CA never did exhibit politics of consensus and the people have yet to experience democratic rights. The CA was elected to develop the Constitution and reintegrate the Maoist soldiers into society within two years. Instead, they wasted four years.
The Nepali Congress leader said the CA should be replaced by a national unity government to hold the election because “one who is not a member of the Parliament cannot hold the post of the PM.” These politicians would never agree on who would lead such a government, of course.
A senior CPN-UML leader said Bhatterai’s proposal is not viable because there is no provision in the Interim Constitution for another CA election. He said: “The PM should have made attempt to amend the provision of the constitution before announcing the fresh election by forging consensus”. These politicians could never agree even on a forgery.
President Yadav must now rule on the legal issues and decide what to try next so Nepal’s secular democratic republic can become a reality. Today is a public holiday observing Republic Day when Nepal’s Parliament abolished the Hindu monarchy on May 28, 2008.