NEW DELHI(PTI): Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday appealed to all…
Kathmandu, Jan 22 – With Nepali lawmakers Thursday set to miss a self-imposed deadline for promulgation of the country’s new constitution, security in and around the extensive Constituent Assembly complex was beefed up with several thousand security personnel deployed to maintain law and order within the premises.
The various political parties have failed to reach a consensus on key issues eluding a resolution, and the 601-member house early Tuesday witnessed unprecedented violence and vandalism with opposition members disrupting an assembly meeting and attacking lawmakers from the ruling parties, resulting in injuries to a dozen security personnel.
Jan 22 was the deadline the lawmakers imposed upon themselves last year in the wake of the election to the second Constituent Assembly (CA) after the first CA — elected for a two-year term — failed in the Himalayan task from May 28, 2008 to May 28, 2012.
The second CA was elected in 2013 and at its first meeting Jan 21, 2014, it resolved to draft the country’s new constitution within a year — a task which it has failed to perform due to an elusive consensus among the 30 political parties that find representation in the unicameral body.
The 601 lawmakers could not even start preparatory work during the year gone by with differences over process and procedure proving to be stumbling blocks.
Procedural wrangling apart, the parties have failed to forge much-needed consensus on contentious issues of the envisaged constitution which include issues relating to the federal structure, form of government, electoral system and the design of the judiciary.
Major political parties — the ruling Nepali Congress and alliance partner CPN-UML as also the main opposition Unified CPN (Maoist) and a bagful of Madhesh-based parties — have differing opinions over the issue of federalism and several cross-party talks have failed to yield any favourable result.Tension
The situation worsened Thursday afternoon after ten packets of chilli powder were found in the Constituent Assembly building half an hour before the day’s meeting was to begin.
Parliament secretariat spokesperson Mukunda Sharma said the recovery was a saddening one.
All members of the assembly — even former prime ministers — were being thoroughly frisked before they could enter the building.
Likewise, microphones on the opposition benches have been removed. Federal Socialist Party chairman Ashok Rai expressed anger over the removal of the microphones and said he will take up the matter with Constituent Assembly chairman Subas Chandra Nembang.
The microphones could have been removed citing security reasons as rampaging opposition lawmakers had hurled several microphones during the Monday-Tuesday night fiasco.
CPN-UML chairman K.P. Sharma Oli sustained injuries after a hurled microphone hit him in the chest during the ruckus.
Meanwhile, lawmakers from the opposition parties grumbled over the security checks.
United CPN (Maoist) leader Agni Sapkota said party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, senior Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai and chairman of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Democratic) Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar met CA chairman Nembang and drew his attention to the strict checking of the opposition leaders.
Are you trying to make the Constituent Assembly building a prison, the opposition members asked chairman Nembang.After failing to hammer out the key differences over the intricacies of the country’s new constitution, particularly over the issue of federalism, the number of provinces and their possible boundaries, Nepal’s political parties appeared to have missed a historic opportunity to frame a new republican constitution.
Political analysts here said it was difficult to predict the situation after Jan 22 and they were not sure whether the confrontation will continue or there would be a compromise after that.
Analysts aver that the Maoists and their allies want the deadline to pass without any result so that they can blame the ruling Nepali Congress and UML for the failure of the constitution-drafting process.
Framing of the country’s new constitution was a key demand put forth by the CPN-Maoist when it decided to join mainstream politics in 2006 after a ten-year-long armed conflict with the avowed aim of overthrowing the Nepali monarchy and establishing a ‘People’s Republic’.
Late Tuesday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement calling on Nepali parties to work together in the final stages of the peace process in drawing up a Constitution that honours past agreements and understandings as well as the mandate of the CA elections.
The United Nations, in a statement here, said the constitution is meant to be a foundational document that will guide the country’s course for the foreseeable future.
To be implemented peacefully and offer stability, it will require the widest support from the Nepali people. The international community calls upon the parties to redouble their efforts to secure an inclusive constitution, said a statement issued by the UN Office, Kathmandu.