Bargainings for portfolios continue. Here is the latest along with what pro-Maoist newspaper like Janadesh and pro-UML paper Drishti say. Plus, Jana Astha weekly on Gyanendra’s blatant ignorance to the government investigation
The politics in Kathmandu is focused in forming the interim government in which Maoists are expected to join. Talks between the political parties, mainly Nepali Congress, CPN UML, CPN Maoist and Nepali Congress Democratic are going on. All big four parties are reportedly bargaining on the exact details of power sharing: who should get which portfolio in the cabinet. Home, Finance, Defense and Communications are considered the four key ministries. UML is claiming either Home or Finance where as NC or the PM wants all first three. Maoist is expected to get Communications.
As bargains are going on among the parties, Maoists are increasingly becoming frustrated by the way Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala is presenting himself the power sharing negotiations. They feel the delaying caused by Koirala is helping those who don’t want to see the Constituent Assembly elections happening in June. (According to the interim constitution of Nepal, the CA election must be held by mid June.) Nepali Congress, Koirala’s party, wants to keep plum portfolios with itself in the interim cabinet where as CPN UML and CPN Maoist strongly disagree with that intention. They say the cabinet must represent the power equation of the interim legislature parliament where all three big parties are represented almost equally. Maoists are demanding the senior Deputy Prime Minister saying that when they agreed to accept Subash Nemwang of UML to be the speaker of the parliament all parties had in principle agreed that the Maoist would get the post of senior DPM. In yesterday’s meeting with Prachanda, Koirala shocked the Maoist leader by saying that he didn’t want to continue with the post of DPL at all.
There is another uncertainty: will the interim government form by the end of this week, before the PM heads to New Delhi, India on April 1, to take part in the SAARC meeting. The foreign minister has to attend the pre-summit ministerial meetings before that date. So there is very little time to continue the apparently never ending negotiations. An informal meeting of the central secretariat of the Maoist the day before yesterday gave ultimatum to the PM to form the government by Friday. If not, the party said, there will be Jana Andolan (People’s Movement) III. The Maoist mouthpiece Janadesh weekly in its Tuesday issue has this banner headline: “Feeble possibility of Maoist joining the government.” The paper writes: “The special meeting of Central Committee secretariat will be held today. The meeting will decide on joining the government in the present context in which the possibility of holding CA election by mid June seems fading. If the meeting decides not to join the government, new programs to start peoples’ movement will be brought out, the source said.”
Nepali language Janadesh further writes: “Nepali Congress is not ready to take a solid decision on the monarchy, the paper writes. The imperialist and royalist regressive elements within Nepali Congress are busy in different conspiracies and that is pushing the election of CA to uncertainty.”
Here is more from Janadesh: “There is no point of Maoist joining the government if the election couldn’t be held by mid-June. Nepalese peoples’ wish is to hold the election by that date and construct a new Nepal by a restructured [state machinery]. If there is a conspiracy to take the Maoist to the government but not hold the election by the stipulated date, there is no meaning for the Maoist joining such government. Maoist will not join such government.”
Dristi, a pro-CPN UML vernacular weekly newspaper, has this headline on Tuesday’s issue: “UML will get out [of the government] if talks fail.” The paper blames NC and Prime Minister Koirala for the current deadlock on the formation of interim government. “It is said that PM Koirala hasn’t yet agreed to the proposal put forward by the parties like UML and Maoists to form the government based on co-existence.”
Going by all the reports of power sharing negotiations, we feel that Prime Minister Koirala is being too rigid. He must give respectable positions to the Maoist and UML in the cabinet. Koirala must not think that Nepali Congress is in majority in the House. This is a damn coalition parliament and that must be reflected in the formation of the government. In addition to that, CPN UML has the experience of running a government with their own Prime Minister. So Koirala should not put UML and Maoist in the same category. Yes, he can argue that giving Maoists portfolios like Home or Finance or Defense might bring complications but putting a UML guy in the Finance ministry will not harm anyone.
King Size Problem: How Much Property Do You Have, Your Majesty?
As the parties are indulging themselves in power sharing details the king has failed to respond to two letters sent to him by the government regarding the properties of the palace and kings, reports Wednesday tabloid Jana Astha. A special committee set up by the government is investigating the property details of the current and past kings, the royal palace and royal family members. There are three ministers in the committee. That committee had sent a letter to the palace Fagun 23 (three weeks ago) giving the king a weeks time to respond. No response came. The committee sent another letter on Chaitra 5 (19 March). “There were public holidays after the ultimatum of the first letter had finished and the palace had some comfort,” writes the weekly. The second letter also gave the king seven days to respond. That deadline also came and went. The paper quotes the unnamed sources that while blatantly ignoring the democratic government’s request to provide the property details the palace might be just waiting for this government to be dissolved (and also the special committee) as the parties are in the final stage of forming an interim government.
Election Update: 17.5 Million Voters for CA Polls
According to Dr. Nilkantha Upreti, an election commissioner, there will be around 17.5 million eligible voters in the forthcoming Constituent Assembly elections. Around 17,500 polling centres will have to be set up. The task of registering voters is 95 percent complete till now. He was speaking in a program “Democracy and Election in Nepal” in Kathmandu on 27 March. He said that the EC was still waiting for the enactment of three electoral legislations including the CA Members Election Bill, CA Court Bill, and the Bill on Political Parties.
Meanwhile, the parliament on Monday (March 26) passed two election related laws that will help the election commission to proceed with its plan of holding the CA election. The laws have the provision to punish those who spend lavishly in CA election. The parliament is yet to pass other three laws as demanded by the election commission.
The election constituency delineation commission has hold meeting with the election commission officials on Monday (March 26). The commission formed recently by the government has started its job from Monday. But the UML and Maoist members in parliament expressed surprise over the formation of the commission without the knowledge of parliament. Speaking in the parliament, chief whip of the Maoist, Dinanath Sharma, demanded the dismantling of the commission.
Terai (Gaur) problem: Terming the killing of 29 people in Gaur last week a “barbaric, heinous and unforgivable crime”, Madhesi intellectuals and professionals on Monday (March 26) denounced the gory killings allegedly committed by MPRF. Senior journalist Bijaya Kant Karna said that the incident has tarnished the image of Madhesi movement. Tula Narayan Sah, president of Terai Engineers’ Society said: MPRF failed to understand the sensitivity of the transition period. Government must take strong action against those involved in the incident and held end the culture of impunity.” Jeetendra Dev, general secretary of Loktantrik (democratic) Madhesi Organization said: “MPRF is guided by royalist elements and is bent on foiling the CA poll.”
Prachanda, the Maoist chairman, in an interview with Janadesh weekly newspaper (Tuesday, 27 March), has said that he thinks the MPRF is only a shield and other forces are active in creating Gaur-like incidents. He said that his party has asked the government to outlaw MPRF. “But the government said MPRF wasn’t an organization with people’s backing and if they are outlawed as an organization, that will have negative impact. After government said this, we said: then orders to arrest the so called leaders of the Forum must be issued immediately, all of them must be arrested and action must be taken against them.”