The Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the Maoists have failed to hammer out an agreement regarding formation of the interim government. The major sticking point is division of portfolios amongst the four major parties- NC, UML, NC (D) and Maoists. The difficulty in power sharing amongst various political parties is understandable. Not only do different parties have different claims about their strength; but each of them will also be competing in the upcoming Constituent Assembly (CA) elections.
This only adds to the complications of power sharing negotiations. None of these parties want to be seen as weaker or junior partner in the interim government. With one eye fixed at the CA Polls, the parties think the make up of the interim government will symbolically reflect their strength. That’s why the Maoists are claiming the post of deputy prime minister and the UML wants either the Home or the Finance ministry. But Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala wants to retain all three powerful ministries-Defense, Home and Finance-with the NC.
Bargains, bluffs and protracted negotiations are the realities of coalitions the world over. So, expecting a swift deal overnight would be asking too much from the parties. That said, we want to draw the attention of the seven-plus-one parties to the current fluid situation. Close to the first anniversary of the April Movement, we have achieved a lot. But it is also true that a lot remains to be done. The major task, which will go a long way in consolidating the gains of the April Movement, is holding the CA Polls. Election is a power making/power eroding process. Once election is held and people provide mandate to certain political forces, it legitimizes that political power. On the contrary, rejecting other political forces in the polls, people erode their legitimacy. We need elections not only to decide the future of monarchy in Nepal but also to establish through popular will who they want to see ruling the country. Once elections are held we will get rid of the problem of legitimacy that every political party is claiming now.
Unfortunately, the very power making/power eroding process is currently clouded in uncertainty. With every passing day, the CA Poll scheduled for mid-June looks more unlikely. The gory Gaur killing has only added to the reigning uncertainty and chaos of the transition. By quarreling too much over distribution of ministries, the major parties will not only discredit themselves in this critical hour but will also add to the fear and frustration of the common people. We, therefore, urge the parties to sort out things sooner than later. (editorial of the Kathmandu Post. Here is original.)
Update: Parties Close to Power Sharing Deal
KATHMANDU, March 25 – The ongoing one-on-one talks of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala with leaders of the ruling Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists are close to attaining consensus on division of influential ministries in the Maoist-included future coalition government. Positive signs in the power-sharing deal were seen on Sunday after three largest parties in the future coalition gave top priority to different ministries, averting the possibility of overlapping their claims over a particular ministry. “Major four ministries claimed by the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist) are Home, Defense, Finance and Communication but their top priority are not seen as overlapping,” said an SPA leader, indicating the possibility of parties reaching an understanding soon. According to the leader, NC has demonstrated willingness to give up claim over the Finance Ministry, enabling the UML to secure the finance ministry portfolio. Both the NC and UML have shown clear signs of giving up their claim over Information and Communication ministry that will go to the Maoists.
None of the parties have clearly staked their claim over the defense ministry, in a silent consent to allow prime minister to retain the ministry with him. Such types of indications surfaced during Prime Minister Koirala’s one-on-one with Maoist leader Prachanda, CPN-UML leader Madhav Nepal and NC (D) leader Sher Bahadur Deuba Sunday. (details)