KATHMANDU, May 21: The inter-party negotiations on resolving thorny disputes in constitution writing and expediting the statute drafting process have yet again faltered even as the Constituent Assembly (CA) tenure expires within a week.
Top leaders from three major political parties — UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML — couldn´t convene a scheduled three-party meeting on Sunday let alone advance the statute drafting process ahead. Leaders from the major parties were scheduled to hold talks on Sunday morning and it was cancelled as UML leaders were absent. The meeting was then rescheduled for 5 pm, but the UML leaders didn´t attend the talks in the evening as well.
Leaders involved in the negotiations said UML leadership refrained from talks accusing the UCPN (Maoist) and the government leadership of duplicity – inciting the agitating ethnic groups to intensify protests on one hand and “staging a drama of talks” with other parties on the other.
UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal and other leaders from the party didn´t turn up at the meeting despite Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and NC President Sushil Koirala´s pleas over the phone for Khanal to attend the talks.
Pradeep Gyawali, chief of UML´s publicity department, confirmed the party leaders stayed away from the talks saying that there was no point holding negotiations until the Maoist leaders give continuity to their duplicity.
Gyawali said Dahal made a volte-face from the three-party understanding on adopting 11-province state restructuring model and it was only few days back that Dahal suggested leaders of agitating ethnic and indigenous communities to take to the streets to counter those who were protesting the ethnicity-based federalism.
“There is a correlation between Dahal´s recent provocations of ethnic leaders and the unruly protests taking place today [Sunday],” Gyawali told Republica. “What is the point of holding inter-party negotiations if the Maoist leaders incite ethnic conflict?”
“Preparing ground for state of emergency”
UML Secretary Shankar Pokharel claimed the incidents during demonstrations on Sunday indicated the Maoist leaders and the government were preparing ground for state of emergency in the country.
He said there was a political penetration into the demonstrations with an intention to flare up the protests with the involvement of government leadership and the Maoists with a plan to impose state of emergency.
Pokharel also said that the Maoists were for provoking the agitating groups instead of properly addressing the aspirations of various social groups who aspire their rights be ensured in the new constitution.
“Who should we hold talks with when the government itself acts as an agitating party?” asked Pokharel.
Top UML leaders hold internal meeting
While evading inter-party negotiations, the UML standing committee members gathered at the official residence of Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokharel, who is also the party´s general secretary, at Pulchowk to chalk out the party´s future course.
Party chairman Jhalanath Khanal, former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, KP Sharma Oli and Bamdev Gautam, among other gathered at Pulchowk and were busy in intra-party discussions until late night.THIRA L BHUSAL republica