NC, UML meet on key issues ahead of Godavari conclave

KATHMANDU: The ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-UML today held a bilateral meeting to evolve a common stance on the six issues to be discussed with the main opposition, Unified CPN-Maoist, at Godavari meeting scheduled for tomorrow.

The three major parties on January 5 had identified six main agenda of discussion. They include reviewing the past agreements since the 12-point understanding, confidence building measures, ways of ending the political deadlock, integration and rehabilitation of the UNMIN-verified Maoist combatants, constitution-writing and power-sharing.

Emerging from the bilateral meeting, UML president Jhala Nath Khanal said the top leaders of the three parties would start discussions on these issues at the Godavari conclave.

Asked about the issue of power-sharing, Khanal said an understanding could be reached with the Maoists provided that the latter met certain conditions put forth by his party’s central committee meeting.

The party had come up with seven-point conditions, including disbanding the paramilitary structure of the Maoists’ Young Communist League, emptying the Maoist cantonments, destroying the arms kept in UNMIN-monitored containers and returning the seized property to the rightful owners.

Ram Chandra Poudel, vice-president and parliamentary party leader of the Nepali Congress, said that the main opposition should emerge as a “civilian party” if it wanted to lead the government with their support.

UML standing committee member K P Sharma Oli, who is also the coordinator of the seven-member team formed by the party to hold talks with other parties, said it was a preparatory meeting to evolve a common stance on all those issues. He said they discussed the key issues to be sorted out before the promulgation of the new constitution by May 28.

“Management of the conflict, including the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist fighters and restructuring the state on federal line are the main issues which need to be accomplished well before the new constitution has been adopted,” Oli said. Asked about his party’s view on power-sharing, Oli said the Maoist could join the present government, which was itself a national unity government.

At one point, Oli said the Maoist could not expect to lead the coalition government unless they renounced the politics of violence, follow the constitutional norms and values and transform themselves as a civilian political party.

Oli also held a separate meeting with UCPN-Maoist’s vice-chairman and its parliamentary party leader Narayankaji Shrestha “Prakash” at the latter’s office about the issues to be discussed at Godavari.

Comrade Prakash said they would be discussing the political deadlock, peace and constitution-drafting processes for which they had already set six agenda one month ago.

“We want the integration and rehabilitation process of the Maoist combatants and constitution-making process to go simultaneously,” Prakash said. He also said the parties should also sort out the contentious issues pertaining to the constitution. But Oli said the Maoist must be ready to integrate and rehabilitate the fighters before the promulgation of the constitution. This is the bone of contention between the Maoist and other parties.

“We had common views that the new constitution should be able to bring about drastic change in society,” Prakash said. Oli, however, countered that even the new constitution should have the ingredients of the universal values of democracy and rule of law.

Prakash said they would try their best to find a solution of all the problems in a package, which meant formation of a coalition government under the Maoist leadership.