Consensus on federalism‚ governance elusive,Parties have still to agree before issues are put to vote in CA

KATHMANDU: Discussion among the major political forces — Unified CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) — made no headway with the parties refusing to budge from their stances on federalism and forms of governance.

The parties, however, said they would seek consensus at tomorrow’s top brass through “give and take”. “If the attempt fails, we will have no option but to put the issues to vote at the Constituent Assembly on Tuesday as preparations for the voting process will take up Monday’s time,” said UCPN-M leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha after the meeting held at the office of Special Committee in New Baneshwor. Shrestha said the parties must be ready to give up their stances and compromise.

Although the parties agreed to accept the mixed model for forms of governance, they are yet to determine executive powers of the president and prime minister. “The president, who is directly elected by the people cannot remain ceremonial. So, we are discussing more executive power for the president,” Shrestha said.

Congress leader Ram Chandra Paudel, however, said direct election of the president could spoil the spirit of inclusion and federalism in Nepal’s context. He reiterated that parliament should be bestowed with political rights. Paudel said the PM should be given more executive powers. On federalism, he said Congress and UML were closer, but UCPN-M and UDMF were not clear on the issue.

UML leader Surendra Pandey said UML could be flexible on the number of pradeshes. Sources said Congress did not favour more than seven pradeshes, while UML said a maximum of eight pradeshes could be acceptable. UCPN-M and UDMF, however, reiterated their stances on 10 pradeshes.

UDMF leader Bijay Kumar Gachhadar claimed the parties were “almost agreed” on mixed model of forms of governance with directly elected president and prime minister elected by parliament. “Parties are at odds on sharing power between president and prime minister.”

UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal termed Thursday’s agreement ‘historic’ and dismissed reports that UML would not join a unity government. “We will join,” Khanal said. UML Central Committee yesterday witnessed voices against the party’s purported participation in the Baburam Bhattarai-led government.HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE

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