Federalism talks: Day-long But no result

KATHMANDU, May 13: Despite inching closer to agreement on a model for state restructuring, leaders from the three major political parties could not finalize a deal on Saturday as they differed over the interpretation of a mixed or multi-identity model and also over the matter of delineating various provinces.

According to the party leaders involved in the talks, they are still negotiating over two models-the eight-province model based on mixed or multi-identities and an 11-province model based on common identity—but are likely to finally settle for an 11-province map.

Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN UML have been insisting that while delineating and naming multi-identity provinces, these should include at least the identities of the dominant communities of the province concerned. NC and UML leaders are for delineation of provinces in the fashion of Magarat-Tamuwan-Gandaki for instance, while UCPN (Maoist) leaders are for naming the provinces after one dominant community and including one neutral name, such as in Tamuwan-Gandaki.

Leaders at the same time mulling over an 11-province model in which the major basis for naming the provinces will be common identity such as Sagarmatha, Lumbini, Mechi and Koshi.

Leaders privy to developments believe that the leaders will finally settle for an 11-province model.

“We were very close to reaching a consensus on the 11-province model but differences surfaced when discussion turned to how to delineate the provinces,” said UCPN (Maoist) Vice-chairman Narayankaji Shrestha.

According to him, the Maoists also floated the idea of entrusting the task to a commission for federal delineation instead of disputing over minor details of demarcation. He said they discussed various options but could not reach a consensus. “NC leader insisted on eight provinces and UML leaders backed them,” he said.

CPN UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal said discussions are underway over the two models.

“The eight-province model can fit in properly with the multi-identity model. But there are differences among us on the interpretation of multi-identity. As far as the 11-province model is concerned, there are some disputes over demarcations and naming of the provinces as well,” said Nepal. He said the leaders are trying to find names that will not be objectionable to anyone.

Leaders couldn’t reach agreement although they held several rounds of talk at bilateral as well as trilateral level throughout the day at Singha Durbar.by THIRA L BHUSAL Republica

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