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Promulgating A New Constitution Within A Year

Promulgating A New Constitution Within A Year


Siddhi B Ranjitkar


The newly elected constituent assembly (CA) has been preparing for completing the crafting of a new constitution but the CPN-Maoist that has stayed away from the CA elections, and it has been not for crafting a new constitution has been preparing for a new movement. The CA has decided to set up five committees that would discuss various subject matters concerning the crafting of a new constitution. Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said that his party would adopt the prime ministerial system of governance not the presidential system, and his party would never compromise on the values and principals of democracy. Prime Minister Koirala attended BIMSTEC summit in Myanmar.

The CA has decided to set up five CA committees such as 1. Political Dialogue Consensus Building Committee, 2. Constitution Drafting Committee, 3. Constitution Record Study, and Conclusion Making Committee, 4. Capacity Building And Resource Management Committee, and, 5. Citizen Relations And Constitution Suggestion Committee. (Source: gorkhapatra, February 28, 2014)

The Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Regulations of 2014 (2070) drafting committee has been stuck to the discussion of whether to set up caucuses, and whether to call a whip or not. NC, CPN-UML, Janamorcha, Nepal Workers and Peasants’ Party had been for calling the whip but against setting up caucuses whereas other remaining political parties out of the 30 political parties in the CA had been for not calling the whip but for setting up caucuses. (Source: gorkhapatra, March 1, 2014)

On March 4, 2014, the meeting of the CA decided to extend the deadline for completing the draft of Constituent Assembly (CA) Regulations for the second time until March 11, as the Constituent Assembly (CA) Regulations Drafting Committee could not complete it following the dispute between the NC and other political parties. NC wanted to amend the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 to remove the provision for the Chairman of the CA promulgating a new constitution, and then inserting the provision for the president promulgating it. Other political parties including the CPN-UML were against amending the Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 for making the provision for the president promulgating a new constitution. The committee was supposed to complete the draft of Constituent Assembly (CA) Regulations on February 22, 2014. (Source: Gorkhapatraonline.com, March 6, 2014)

Speaking to the reporters in Manthali District headquarters on Thursday, February 27, 2014, deputy chairman of CPN-Maoist CP Gajurel said that the current government could promulgate a new constitution within three months. He also said that his party was not against the constitution but against the regressive constitution; the previous CA could promulgate a people-oriented constitution but the regressive forces did not make it possible; the constitution to be promulgated by the current CA would be regressive one not a progressive. Deputy chairman Gajurel also said that the country would have two constitutions and two governments; his party would go to the people for the endorsement of the constitution. If the State were to interfere in this business, his party would revolt against it. (Source: gorkhapatra, February 28, 2014)

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the ninth national general convention of Nepal Democratic Lawyers Association in Nepalgunj on Friday, February 28, 2014, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said that he wanted to get relief from the office of prime minister as soon as possible promulgating a new constitution; although major political parties had differences in some subject matters a new constitution could be promulgated within six months; however, his party would not accept the presidential system of governance but stick to the prime ministerial system; the disputed matters would be settled by the CA following the regular process. He also said that his party would not compromise on the values and principles of democracy (Source: gorkhapatra, March 1, 2014)

Speaking at the same ceremony, Vice-president of NC Ram Chandra Poudel said that his party would give a gift of a Nepali Democratic Constitution to the Nepalis on February 18, 2015 (Fagun 7, 2071). He also said that the provinces would be multi-religious, multi-language and multi-ethnic; the president would promulgate a new constitution instead of the Chairman of the CA as stated in the Interim Constitution amending the constitution to this end. He said that political leaders had been tired of building a consensus on the disputed subject matters; so, these matters would be resolved through the regular process of the CA in other words two-thirds majority. (Source: gorkhapatra, March 1, 2014)

Speaking at the program held to celebrate the Gyalpo Losar with the political slogan of ‘Desire of the entire Sherpa: setting up a Sherpa Autonomous Province’ in Kathmandu on Friday, February 28, 2014, deputy prime minister holding the portfolio of federal affairs and local development ministry Prakashman Singh said that a democratic constitution with the freedom of religion would be crafted. He also said that a constitution was necessary to keep the identity of all ethnic groups, and to ensure the rights of all of them. He said that the government would give equal opportunity to develop all religions, and culture; and the government was committed to preserve and promote all religions and culture. (Source: gorkhapatra, March 1, 2014)

Speaking at the press conference held by the Nepal Press Union of Parsa in Birgunj on Friday, February 28, 2014, leader of NC Sujata Koirala said that the main responsibility of political parties and the government was the promulgation of a new constitution; the internal conflict in the political parties should not affect the crafting of a new constitution; and the attention of all political parties should be focused on crafting a ‘federal inclusive democratic constitution’. She also said that NC, CPN-UML, and UCPN-Maoist should work together to craft a new constitution. (Source: gorkhapatra, March 1, 2014)

At a news conference held by the Nepal Press Union of Banke in Nepalgunj on March 3, 2014, senior leader of NC also former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said that a new constitution would be promulgated within a year based on the power balance among all the political parties. Senior leader Deuba said that the constitution would be promulgated building a consensus on it among all parties in the Legislature-Parliament including those out of the parliament. Replaying to a question, former Prime Minister Deuba said that his party would be flexible to the extent possible to build a consensus on disputed issues without compromising on the principles, norms and values of the democracy. If parties were to continue their stand on the disputed issues then the two-thirds majority would resolve the disputed issues and promulgate a constitution from the CA. (Source: Gorkhapatraonline.com, March 4, 2014)

Speaking at a press meet held by the Press Union Chapter of Palpa on Tansen on Wednesday, March 5, 2014, Deputy Prime Minister holding the portfolio of Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development Prakashman Singh said that he was confident in holding the local elections within the next six months and promulgating a new constitution within a year. Deputy Prime Minister Singh said that complaints were received from the people that their desire for development remained unmet due to the absence of their representatives at the local bodies, and the government had already started making necessary preparations for holding the local polls. (Source: Gorkhapatraonline.com, March 6, 2014)

Nepal has formally taken over the chair of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sector Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). President of Myanmar U Thein Sein turned over the flag of BIMSTEC to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala of Nepal after the completion of the Third Summit of BIMSTEC in Nay Pyi Taw (Myanmar) on March 4, 2014. Myanmar had been holding the chair of the BIMSTEC until the Third BIMSTEC Summit. The Summit welcomed Nepal as the new chair of the BIMSTEC, and also the appointment of Mr Sumith Nakandala as the first Secretary General of BIMSTEC and thanked the Government of Bangladesh for offering to host the secretariat. In addition, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the BIMSTEC member states signed three agreements such as the Memorandum of Association of Establishment of the BIMSTEC Permanent Secretariat, the Memorandum of Association of the BIMSTEC Center for Weather and Climate and the Memorandum of Association of the BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Commission and BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Observatory. (Source: RSS, Gorkhapatraonline.com, March 6, 2014)

Briefly talking to RSS representative at Yangon: the old capital of Myanmar on March 5, 2014 at the time of returning home after participating in the Third Summit of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sector Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Prime Minister of Nepal Sushil Koirala hoped that progress and prosperity of the BIMSTEC member countries was possible only through mutual understanding, unity, collaboration and collective efforts. He stressed the need for attaining economic development to reduce poverty prevalent in the BIMSTEC zone. "But, consensus, cooperation, understanding and strong-will power is the first condition to meet this goal," the PM said. Referring to the efforts made by the European Union and ASEAN to reduce poverty in their respective regions, the Nepalese PM said, “We could do more to improve the living standard of the people of BIMSTEC zone.” PM Koirala further stated that establishment of the permanent secretariat, appointment of the secretary general and setting up of a specified body related to water and climate and cultural industry in India and Bhutan had taken the BIMSTEC to a new height. (Source: RSS, Gorkhapatraonline.com, March 6, 2014)

Talking to the reporters at the International Airport in Kathmandu on March 6, 2014 while returning home after attending the three-day Third Summit of BIMSTEC in Nay Pyi Taw: the new capital of Myanmar, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said that the Nepal's strong political commitment to the regional cooperation had been made with its high-level participation in the Third Summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sector Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). He also said that the confidence of the BIMSTEC member countries in Nepal for the role it had to play in promoting the regional cooperation had been further enhanced with the turning over of the regional organization’s chairmanship to Nepal.

Prime Minister Koirala said that the Summit concluded with the commitment to providing cooperation in the development process of the Least Developed Countries by resolving their challenges and collaborating on the topic of partnership and assistance in minimizing the effect of climate change and its negative impact in future, poverty alleviation, energy and tourism among other topics.

The Prime Minister said that the Summit also held crucial discussions on combating terrorism and cross-border crimes, and human and drug trafficking and giving the final shape to the drafts of these themes. He added that Nepal has also signed the Memorandum of Understanding on these three topics at the summit.

"BIMSTEC's presidency has been handed over to Nepal from Myanmar from this Summit. It is felt that this responsibility has to be utilized to make Nepal's role effective. Since Nepal also has got the opportunity to host the 18th SAARC Summit, I believe that both these regional organizations could be used for contributing to the national interest by means of regional development and prosperity," the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister said that he met with his counterparts from India, Bangladesh and Bhutan and the Presidents of Sri Lanka and Myanmar on the sidelines of the Summit and discussed various topics of bilateral interest with them. "In my meeting with the Indian Prime Minister Dr Man Mohan Singh, I held discussions on resuming the Foreign Ministerial Joint Commission meeting stalled since 1991 and on topics as bilateral trade, transit and investment promotion. I also invited the Indian Prime Minister to visit Nepal," Prime Minister Koirala said. At the meeting with the Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister Koirala stressed the need for the dignified return of the Bhutanese refugees to Bhutan for resolving the Bhutanese refugee problem in the long run; with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina Wajed, he discussed promoting bilateral cooperation in energy, tourism, transit and trade sectors; with the Myanmar President Thein Sein, Prime Minister Koirala discussed establishing air links between the two countries, the development of Lumbini and tourism promotion. Similarly, during his talks with the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, PM Koirala held discussions on further strengthening the bilateral relations. (Source: RSS, Gorkhapatraonline.com, March 7, 2014)

SAARC had set up 11 SAARC centers to promote the regional cooperation on the various sectors. However, some of these centers had been on the verge of closing down, as they could not achieve their objectives, and they had been liabilities rather than assets. Out of the 11 centers, Tuberculosis and Information Center was in Nepal, Agriculture and Geological Research Center in Bangladesh, Documentation and Disaster Management Center in India, Energy and Manpower Development Center in Pakistan, Forestry Center in Bhutan, Culture Center in Sri Lanka, and Coastal Area Development in Male. (Source: gorkhapatra, March 6, 2014)

Regional organizations such as SAARC and BIMSTEC had been the arena for the heads of state and government to deliver speeches, and then to have nice meetings for exchanging pleasantries, and then to have state dinner, nothing more, as these organizations have no grassroots organizations that would implement the decisions made at the summits. SAARC had been almost 30 yeas old but most of the decisions made at the SAARC summits remained in papers. Heads of small state and government of the South Asia had set up this organization to have an opportunity of standing on a par with the heads of state of large countries. Heads of state and government of small countries wanted to have their voices heard through this organization but how far it had been achieved remained to be seen.

Prime minister and other political leaders particularly the politicians in power have been tirelessly talking about promulgating a new constitution within a year. However, almost four months have been passed since the elections to a new CA, the Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Regulations of 2014 (2070) drafting committee has not been able to complete its task of drafting the regulations as the politicians of ruling parties and the opposition have been arguing with each other whether to allow setting up caucuses or calling a whip or not. Now, the parties such as NC and CPN-UML have been arguing with each other concerning who should promulgate a new constitution. The Interim Constitution of Nepal of 2007 has the provision for the Chairman of the CA to promulgate a new constitution but the NC wanted the president promulgating a new constitution amending the interim constitution. CPN-UML did not want to amend the interim constitution for making the provision for the president promulgating a new constitution. CPN-Maoist said that it would promulgate a new constitution on the streets, and go to the people for endorsement. In addition, it would set up a parallel government. In case the government interfered in its business then it would revolt. Promulgating a new constitution would need to sail fast in the rough weather to meet the deadline of a year but some politicians have been taking it easy saying they have four years to do so.

ends

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