Political leaders get together to discuss Constitution

May 9, 2011

imagePolitical leaders get together to discuss Constitution. Photo: Suraj Parajuli

With less than a month to meet the deadline of promulgating the new Constitution, Nepal’s top political party leaders— Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal, UCPN (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepali Congress chairman Sushil Koirala and Tarai Madhesh Democratic Party (TMDP) chairman Mahanta Thakur came together to express their commitment and urgency to have the new Constitution within the stipulated time frame.

Organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association and the Center for Constitutional Dialogue (CCD), supported by the UNDP Support to Participatory Constitution Building in Nepal (SPCBN), the discussion programme ‘Ending the Impasse in Constitution-making and a Constitutional Way Forward’ was attended by senior lawyers and journalists with a live national telecast.

Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal stated the urgency for the Government to come up with the modality for army integration before the other three big issues— state restructuring, forms of governance and electoral system can be effectively addressed. He said, “By 28 May we will be able to finalize at least an agreed modality of the peace process and a draft Constitution but there is a need of an extension of Constituent Assembly by few more months.” 

Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal supported the views of the PM and stated that there is enough time to prepare an integrated draft of the new Constitution before 28 May. “We are committed to completing the Constitution drafting process at the earliest, but promulgating a full-fledged Constitution would not be possible in such a short time.” 

Nepali Congress chairman Sushil Koirala however was not very positive on extending the CA’s term. He said that the new Constitution can be promulgated within a month if the leaders act responsibly.

Similarly, TMDP chairman Mahanta Thakur stated the party’s dissatisfaction over not being consulted enough by the current Government. Thakur said that the three major political parties have always ignored the Madhesh-based parties which left them as mere ‘clappers’ to the decisions made by the big parties. He further stated, “This time we will not sit back and clap to the decision of the CA’s extension. We are totally against the extension of the CA deadline.” 

Senior advocate Badri Bahadur Karki cited that the current political turmoil was due to the political parties lacking the democratic norms. Senior advocate Shambu Thapa put forward his request to the top leaders to be more serious about the Constitution-making process and reminded the leaders their commitment to the people during the 2006 people’s mass movement.

In order to have an inclusive Constitution that brings Nepal’s traditionally excluded groups into the political and social mainstream, the CCD has been facilitating dialogues on various Constitutional issues bringing together key political leaders, CA members and Constitutional experts for last two years. The CCD has become a focal point for dialogue among assembly members, experts, civil society and the public; for trainings, workshops and for information and expert advice on Constitutional issues.