EDITORIAL: Act together

The political parties are more focused on toppling and forming the government instead of making laws required for the elections

The nation marked the first year of the new constitution on Monday. But its implementation part appears to be at a snail’s pace.

Some of the Madhes-centric parties who were in agitation over the boundaries of the Pradeshes, representation on the National Assembly and citizenship issues are still not ready to accept it.

Deep rift and distrust among the major political parties, particularly the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre, have made implementation of the constitution more complicated. Implementation of the new constitution means holding the three tiers of elections – local, provincial and federal – within 16 months to come.

It seems to be an uphill task to hold the elections given the limited time available for the government, parliament and the political parties. At the time of adopting the new constitution the major parties had vowed to hold the three tiers of elections within the stipulated time.

But the political parties are more focused on toppling and forming the government instead of making laws required for the elections. The long-drawn-out political transition will end only after holding the three tiers of elections. But the political parties are not serious about them..

Challenges for holding the elections include bringing the agitating Madhesi parties on board the election process by addressing their concerns; agreeing upon the structure of the local level on which even the major parties are still divided and formulating over 150 laws related to the elections.

Whereas the government has so far tabled only 11 Bills related to the elections and five of them have been passed so far. It requires consensus among the major political parties and Madhes-based parties to accomplish these tasks.

The Mahdes-based parties have warned that they would not take part in the election processes unless their demands were addressed by making constitutional amendments, an uphill task given the stiff resistance from the main opposition, CPN-UML.

Instead of unity among the major political parties the rift has further widened among them. Formation of two governments within one year – since the promulgation of the new constitution on September 20 last year show that the parties are not focused on holding the elections which is the key to institutionalise the new constitution.

Unless the ruling and opposition parties come together to address the genuine concerns, if any, of the agitating Madhesi parties a conducive environment for holding the elections will not be made.

Even the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government has also not been able to create an environment for holding meaningful talks with the agitating forces. It is high time that the Dahal-led government clearly stated its position about their demands stating which of them can be addressed through constitutional amendments.

For this, the government will also have to take the opposition into confidence. The new constitution is silent about the future political course in case the elections are not held within the coming 16 months though the current parliament can be extended one more year.

The country cannot be run amidst a constitutional vacuum. The political parties cannot afford to push the country towards constitutional uncertainty; they must act together to implement the constitution.

Major tragedy

Another major tragedy has been reported when a boat capsized at Rajabas of Sunsari of the Saptakosi River the other day.

The boat was travelling from the Sri Lanka Island to Prakashpur in Koshi Tappu. At least ten of the people on the boat are reported missing. The security personnel and the locals had managed to save 37 other people on the boat.

This is not the first time that boats have capsized in this river. More than two dozen persons have gone missing in two other boat capsizes in the river in recent time. Considering that many have gone missing while travelling on boats, something must be done to stop more people from losing their lives.

In the recent tragic incident the boat that was meant to ferry only 20 persons was overloaded

with more than 60 passengers. As such, the authorities should see to it that this does not happen again by allowing the boats to carry passengers safely only up to its capacity and no more.

It is also mooted that many precious lives could have been saved had it been made necessary for passengers to wear life jackets as well.