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Nepal: President Gives up the Deadlines: Update No. 275

Note No. 673                                          Dated 18-Nov-2013 

By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan.

Having realised the futility of issuing deadlines and making himself a laughing stock, President Yadav gave up finally, after his deadlines were ignored repeatedly by the political parties although he is still seeking a consensus from them on the future course of action!

A Press release from the President’s office said "the President asked leaders of 18 political parties to translate their commitment into action and forge consensus as soon as possible and aiming for fresh elections." The term ‘as soon as possible’ would mean that they can take their own time to come to an agreement.

This action of the President was a result of the appeal by the political parties not set any deadline and the President obliged! These parties having been flouting the Presidential directions repeatedly since November 23rd of last year.

Earlier on 11th, the President urged the representatives of the nineteen political parties to strike a basic agreement to ensure the drafting of a new constitution by re electing a constitutional assembly. He also gave a warning to the parties that he cannot be introducing ordinances just to keep the government floating and that there should be a consensus even on passing ordinances.

In this kind of situation with all parties continuing to be inflexible, one misses late G.P. Koirala who would have found a way out to convince his party to move on. It is understood that the latest move of the President was a result of a personal meeting of veteran politician Surya Bahadur Thapa with him.

The President is obviously frustrated. He has warned that he would go public as to why he took the initiative for the government formation process and how the political parties have thwarted his efforts. This is not going to help as the political parties that include all the three major mainstream parties are thick skinned and shameless!

What is surprising is that Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has outwitted other politicians of all hues and continues merrily. He has been constantly shifting the goal posts. He was for long insisting that he would quit once the other parties found a common candidate for the Prime ministership. The Nepali Congress finally obliged him by naming its president for that post, but then Bhattarai changed the goal post and is demanding a package deal. For those watching the developments in Nepal, it looks that Bhattarai would find some excuse or other to continue in office till the next elections - come what may.

Though the law and order situation appears to be normal, it may not continue indefinitely as people are getting fed up. The opposition parties are planning to start a movement to oust the government.

The Supreme Court intervened to continue with the investigation of the death of journalist Dekendra Thapa who was killed by Maoist cadres a few years ago after the Prime minister and the Attorney General gave a brazen order to the Police to stop investigating!

The Madhesi component of the coalition government is also getting restless. The Deputy Prime Minister Vijay Gachhadar warned Prime minister Bhattarai not to obstruct the ongoing investigation of the killing of the journalist as that could deal a telling blow to the incumbent coalition.

Time is running out for the proposed elections in May. Certain amendments in the interim constitution will have to be made and this can be done only by the interim parliament. It will have to meet just for a few days to carry on the amendments. Even for this, the cooperation of all the parties across the board is necessary. The UCPM ( M) led by Dahal and Bhattarai had once before opted for this route. But judging by their actions in the past in constantly shifting the goal posts, they may still obstruct. Hope better sense will prevail.