Major parties failed to give a final shape to the questionnaires on which the CA would vote.

KATHMANDU, MAY 11 – The Constituent Assembly (CA) on Thursday failed to kick start the process of voting in its bid to prepare a first draft of the new constitution on a majority basis. Major parties failed to give a final shape to the questionnaires on which the CA would vote.

The CA session was postponed untill Friday afternoon after the Constitutional Committee (CC) failed to restructure the questions. The CC is scheduled to meet again on Friday morning. However, voting on contentious issues still looks uncertain.

“Some parties have proposed some new options apart from what was sent to us by the Constituent Assembly after deliberations on the thematic committee’s report. We have no right to add new options,” said CC Chairman Nilambar Acharya. He said the committee could refer some easy “yes/no questions” to the CA by Friday.

Around 24 lawmakers have registered their new proposals, demanding they be included in the questionnaire. A list of 117 questions proposed by the CA Secretariat should be revised to incorporate the new proposals.

“Differences of opinion in the reports of the thematic committees should be the basis of the questions. We can introduce new options only after a unanimous decision in the Constitutional Committee,” said Maoist hardline lawmaker Dev Gurung. “There is no possibility that the 63-member committee will be unanimous on allowing the new options,” he added.

If questions are not redefined, lawmakers will have limited options when contentious issues are put to vote. Lawmakers can vote only on alternatives sent by the CA after discussions of the thematic reports. For example, the full House must vote either for 14 or six states proposed by the CA Committee on Restructuring of the State and Devolution of State Powers. Parties have unveiled new maps and have already revised their old positions on federalism.

Similarly, there will not be a voting on a mixed model of governance with directly elected president and a prime minister elected from the House, which has been described by party leaders as a point of compromise.

On forms of governance, there will be four options–directly elected presidential system, constitutional president and executive prime minister elected from a simple majority of Parliament, a president elected by the House and a ceremonial president and a directly elected prime minister–based on questions forwarded by the CA in December 2010.

CPN-UML lawmaker Bhim Bahadur Rawal said they have submitted their positions to be included in the questionaires.

Rawal, along with UML lawmakers Agni Kharel, Sarada Jha, Sapana Pradhan Malla and Surendra Pandey, have proposed adopting 11 states with non-ethnic names (based on names of rivers, mountains and lakes). NC lawmakers have suggested revision of boundaries of the seven provinces proposed by the CA committee on state restructuring.

“The questionnaire is a technical issue and there are suggestions that the Constitutional Committee should also take suggestions from experts,” said NC Parliamentary Party leader Ram Chandra Poudel. Chairman Acharya suggested parties continue efforts for consensus while the committee readjusts the questions.byPHANINDRA DAHAL from ekantipur

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