Counter Punch: Election for the Constituent Assembly is totally wasteful exercise of the government. What SPA government needs to do is to hold election for all of the members of the House as early as possible.
By Shree Shrestha in Madison, Wisconsin
UWB received this article in email [Articles are welcome!]
It looks like Seven Party Alliance (SPA) government under Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala decided to have election for Constituent Assembly. According to the news story Constituent Assembly will have 425 members. Only 205 members out of 425 will be elected by the people. Since they do not trust the people that they will elect right kind of representatives 204 members will be nominated by the political parties and 16 members will be nominated by the Prime Minister. The Constituent Assembly will also function as the legislature for about two years until full fledged parliamentary elections takes place.
On the top of that there will be interim legislative body consisting of 300 members. In this legislative body there will be 73 members from Nepali Congress (G), 40 members from Nepali Congress (D), 68 members from Communist Party (UML), 95 members from Communist Party (Maoist), 12 members from Rastriya Prajatantra Party including Rastriya Janashakti Party, 5 members from Sadbhawana Party, 1 member from Majdoor Kisan Party, 6 from Janamorcha Nepal.
Since the make up of the interim legislative body has been decided why they are talking about Constituent Assembly of elected and nominated members? Since Constituent Assembly will function as legislative body for about two years why do we need another legislative body comprising of SPAs and Maoists? Why don’t we elect 205 members directly by the people for Constituent Assembly? Why don’t we just add Maoist Representatives to the present House of Representatives?
Election for the Constituent Assembly is totally wasteful exercise of the government. What SPA government needs to do is to hold election for all of the members of the House as early as possible. Representation in the House should be 1 Representative per 100,000 people. So that the House look like Nepal it is necessary to draw electoral map in such a way that various ethnic group like Magar, Tharu, Tamang, Newar, Rai, Gurung, Limbu, Sherpa and others will be in distinct electoral map. This way Magar, Tharu, Tamang, Newar, Rai, Gurung, Limbu, Sherpa and others will be able to elect their own representative to the House. It may not be possible to draw electoral map to include 100,000 people of distinct ethnic groups in each and every district. But in many districts it will be easy tasks. It does not mean that we are uprooting certain ethnic groups to different areas to make up the distinct electoral maps. Local politicians will be able to figure out very easily.
The tenure of the members of the House of Representatives should be limited to three terms of two years. And it should be stated in the Constitution that the House and the National Assembly will never be dissolved under any circumstances.
As proposed in the interim constitution Nepal will be divided into 9 Federal Regions: Kirat, Madhesh, Tamang, Newar, Tamuwan, Magarat, Tharuwan, Bheri-Karnali and Seti Mahakali. Down the road this will be more headache than progress of the country. It will be the best to keep the present 14 administrative zone and 75 districts as is. But there should be provision for local parliament in each and every district. We are talking about decentralization of the power since 1950 but it has never been implemented in true sense. If and when each and every Chief District Officers will be elected rather than appointed by the Ministry in Kathmandu by the people of the respective districts we have decentralized the power from Capital to Districts in true sense.
According to the 1990 Constitution, National Assembly does not have much authority. And in the proposed interim constitution there is no mention about the National assembly. This has to be changed to powerful Upper Parliament. None of the Bills will be Law until passed by the National Assembly and signed by the Prime Minister. From the present provision of sixty members it needs to be changed to 75 members representing 75 districts of Nepal. All of the 75 members should be elected directly by the people from the respective districts. There should not be any nominated members in the National Assembly. The tenure of office of the members of the National Assembly should remain for one term of six years only.
In the present context, it is not a good idea as proposed in the interim constitution that the Prime Minister will be the leader of the political party which gained majority in the election. To honor the aspirations of the people we need to state in the Constitution that the people will directly elect the Prime Minister of the country. The Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers and Assistant Ministers should not be the members of the National Assembly or the House. The Constitution should be clear in how many Ministries will be there in Nepal. Accordingly, there will be Ministers for various Ministries. This way the number of Cabinet Members will be fixed. We also need to impose the term limit of one term of six years on the Prime Minister.
With the system of Prime Minister elected by general public in place we will have smooth transition of power if and when the King is abdicated. Simply put when the King is gone Prime Minister will be the President of the Republic of Nepal.