Final deal on CJ govt near, say parties

  • Divided on TRC, ranks for ex-combatants, voters’ list update, citizenship card distribution

KATHMANDU, FEB 19 -

Four major parties on Tuesday officially said they have agreed to form an 11-member interim election government led by Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi for holding elections by early June.

Tuesday’s cross-party talks held at the President’s residence at Sheetal Niwas entrusted Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai with the responsibility of holding talks with CJ Regmi in this regard.

A package deal will be signed once the parties resolve their differences on contentious issues, including formation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), rank determination of former Maoist combatants, updating of the voters’ list and the distribution of citizenship cards. “We have reached an agreement to form an election government led by the chief justice for conducting elections within Jestha,” Nepali Congress negotiator Bimalendra Nidhi said. “In order to uphold the impartiality of the judiciary, the current chief justice will not serve as the head of judiciary until he remains the executive chief of the country.”

Leaders have agreed that Regmi would hand over his responsibility to Damodar Prasad Sharma before taking up the coveted post. There will be 10 members, who would be appointed from among the retired officials of the special class or very special class of the civil service and judiciary, serving as ministers in the Cabinet.

The interim government will accord top priority to elections and running the day-to-day administration. However, it will not have powers to look into issues of long-term importance. The proposed package deal stipulates that a high-level political mechanism comprising party leaders would be formed to create an atmosphere conducive to holding polls, recommend matters to the government and forge consensus among parties.

Ruling and opposition parties have also agreed that the high-level political mechanism would take a call on the next roadmap should the Regmi-led government fail to accomplish its task. They have agreed that President Ram Baran Yadav will take steps on the basis of the proposal forwarded by the Regmi-led Cabinet after recommendation from the high-level political mechanism.

Top leaders of the UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha agreed on most of the points of the 12-point proposal submitted by the taskforce on Sunday. Though the panel has proposed holding elections on June 5, parties on Monday agreed that the interim government would fix the date before the end of Jestha (June 14) after consultations with the Election Commission.

Top leaders have agreed that the next CA with 491 members would have a tenure of five years. They have also committed to take the ownership of issues agreed upon by the previous CA.

In talks on Monday, Maoist leaders said the TRC ordinance should be introduced and that seniormost ranks to be conferred on former PLA fighters should be defined in the package deal.

The NC and the UML have urged the Maoists to revise the TRC ordinance by incorporating internationally accepted principles and scrapping the provision of blanket amnesty. They have suggested the Maoist leaders not obstruct the formation of the government by taking a stand on the issue.

All the four forces are closer to consensus on providing one month extra for updating the voter roll. The Morcha has argued that elections should be held as per the roll prepared for the 2008 elections if other legal documents, apart from the citizenship certificate, are not considered as the basis for updating the voters’ list.

On Sunday, Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party leader Hridayesh Tripathi said the name of his party chairman Mahantha Thakur and many other leaders are yet to be updated in the voters’ list. Madhesi parties had boycotted last year’s voter roll collection after possession of the citizenship card was made compulsory.

The Morcha has asked for fresh citizenship distribution on the basis of birth to those whose parents have got citizenship by descent before the elections. Sources said the UML and the Madhesi parties are at loggerheads on updating the voter roll. Parties are discussing giving voting rights to those who turned 18 years by mid-April last year.

The deal also commits elections to local bodies by December 15. Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha said major parties have agreed on the fundamental issues of a CJ-led government and are holding serious talks to resolve some outstanding disputes. Leaders said they will hold another round of talks on Tuesday. President Yadav has invited an all-party meeting at 3 pm to discuss the deal.

 

Posted on: 2013-02-19 08:44