KATHMANDU: While major political stakeholders were uncertain for a while regarding whether President would issue afresh week-long deadline to them for the change of guard, the head of the state has once more given a seven-day deadline to parties.
While the major political stakeholders were supposed to name a consensus PM by 4 pm today, they demanded a week-long lifeline from President for the unity government.
Last Friday, as per Article 38 (1) of the Interim Constitution, President Dr Ram Baran Yadav had asked political parties "to choose the prime minister on the basis of a political consensus and recommend the name to him by November 29".
“As the political parties have failed to strike the consensus chord in the stipulated time, President has made an earnest request to political stakeholders to name the new prime ministerial candidate and constitute a new Cabinet within a week ," reads the press statement issued by the office of the President as soon as parties left Sheetal Niwas.
" We requested President to extend deadline on consensus PM, but President has not given official decision. President was however positive over the call, “CPN-UML Chairman had told media men while emerging from the President's office.
"Though we demanded a week-long deadline, President might give us only six days. But we are committee to give name of the new PM to President by Thursday," said UCPN-M Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
As soon as they left Sheetal Niwas, President’s office issued a press statement which says President has extended deadline on consensus PM till next Thursday.
As the Constituent Assembly(CA) elected on May 28, 2008 had died its death on May 27, 2012 without promulgating a new constitution, the government was relegated on May 29, 2012 to the status of caretaker by President Yadav, to function till a new unity government is formed.
But, the interim constitution is unclear about what the President could do if political parties fail to agree on a candidate for prime minister within a week .
If leaders could agree on a candidate to replace incumbent caretaker Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, it would open the door for a change of guard at a time when the country is reeling under political crisis and legal hurdles since the demise of Constituent Assembly on May 27 by the current governmnet.
Top leaders from the two big opposition parties--Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML, -- and ruling parties--UCPN-Maoist and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) had reached Sheetal Niwas at 6pm to request the President Dr Ram Baran Yadav to extend the deadline to constitute the national unity government, said our correspondent Bal Kumar Nepal.
Earlier, speculations were rife that the President would extend the a five-day deadline to constitute a new government.
Parties reached to President the day after NC and the CPN-UML had made up their mind to press the President urgently and ask him to extend the deadline to forge an understanding on a consensus-based prime ministerial candidate.
Constitutional provisions say that if parties fail to form a national unity government by today, then a majority-based government ought to be formed, but as there is no Parliament in place, it will be impossible to invoke Article 38 (2), which calls for choosing the prime minister through voting.
When Unified CPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had called on the Head of State on Tuesday, the latter had asked Dahal what should be done if the parties failed to give a consensus name for the prime minister as per Article 38 (1).
While serious endeavours should have been made to seek a replacement for the current PM, key leaders engaged themselves more seriously in the race for the top executive.
Nepali Congress (NC) said that it is all set to announce its President Sushil Koirala as the prime ministerial candidate for the national unity government after senior leader of the party Sher Bahadur showed his unwillingness to steer the helm.
While NC has long been staking claim to government leadership, the UCPN-M said that it would accept NC at the helm only if the Congress ‘agrees on the contents of the new constitution’.
Nepali Congress (NC) intensified parleys with different leaders to form the unity government under its leadership.
NC President Sushil Koirala on Tuesday morning talked about the terms of the unity government with Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar.
“ I will be rather happy to see Koirala as consensus PM,” said Gachhadar following his meeting with the NC president .
“I am ready to accept the leadership of the 'altruistic and saintly' leader Koirala.
“At this critical juncture, we need a leader who is ready to display unselfish concerns for the welfare of people and nation.”
Earlier, on Monday, NC President had held a meet with Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP) Chief Mahanta Thakur to seek assistance for the NC-led national unity government.
CPN-UML- one of the opposition parties seeking the PM's ouster has already asked NC to name its prime ministerial candidate at the earliest.
But, UCPN-M is pitching to transform the current government into a consensus government. On Tuesday, Dahal had proposed the President to morph the current Maoist-led government into a national consensus government.
On the occasion, Dahal, as learnt, had floated names of four leaders who could be named as possible prime ministerial candidates for the much-awaited national unity government.
Dahal said, if not current premier Bhattarai, then Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Tarai Madesh Loktantrik Party (TMLP) Chief Mahanta Thakaur or DPM Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar could lead the government.
The current government was relegated to the status of caretaker on May 29, 2012, and only last Friday President had appealed to parties to name a consensus PM by Thursday , which for the opposition parties could be constituted only after Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai steps down.
Earlier on Sunday, Dahal and Chairman of the CPN-Maoist Mohan Baidhya had decided to propose CPN-M General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa for the post of PM.