Statute fuzzy on govt formation

Kathmandu, July 23:

Who shall initiate the process of forming a government? The Interim Constitution does not provide a clear answer, say experts.

This question has arisen after Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala submitted his resignation to President Dr Ram Baran Yadav.

“We are not clear as the Constitution is silent on the matter,” Acting Chief Secretary of the Constituent Assembly Secretariat, Manohar Prasad Bhattarai, told this daily.

“We are in wait-and-watch mode. Since the Constitution is not clear on this issue, we have no option but to wait,” Bhattarai said. According to him, the secretariat would place the matter before the CA in a few days.

Though Article 38 (7) of the Constitution states that the PM can submit his resignation to the President, the constitution is fuzzy on who shall initiate the process to form the next government.

“The President shall direct the CA to initiate the constitutional process to form the next government,” Attorney-General Yagya Murti Banjade said.

“The CA should forward the name of its candidate to the President.”

“As per Article 38 of the constitution, the CA shall select the next Prime Minister,” he claimed. The onus is on the President to appoint the PM on the basis of CA’s recommendation.

The fifth amendment of the Interim Constitution states that the government shall be formed on the basis of consensus among political parties or formed by the party that has the backing of majority of the CA members.

“If political parties fail to reach consensus on government formation, then the leader who commands simple majority in the CA would be the Prime Minister,” Banjade added.

CA member and legal expert Agni Kharel, however, claimed that though the constitution is unclear on the matter, the President can direct parties in the CA to form the government in line with accepted parliamentary practices. “If parties cannot form a consensus government, the President can call the single largest party to form the government,” he added.

“The statute is silent on who should initiate the government formation process. Being the head of state, the President should take the initiative,” he said.

“Pparties must initiate the process of forming government after the president’s call,” he added.