Modality for holding CA elections

After the reinstated House of Representatives formally endorsed the seven-party alliance’s commitment to hold constituent assembly (CA) elections, a nationwide debate has started regarding the procedures, contents and mechanism of holding the polls. The Maoists have agreed to peaceful means to resolve the crisis. But many things have to be done before going for CA polls to charter a new constitution.

First of all, we should clear our misconceptions about the CA elections. Many people have not understood the significance of CA. They mistake CA as the ultimate goal in itself, rather than a means to achieve popular goals like total democracy. It is the means to achieve a dynamic, durable and democratic constitution that can guarantee people’s sovereignty, national integrity, individual freedom, pluralistic state mechanism and social justice. Experts also formulated the 1990 constitution and it has many provisions to strengthen democracy, rule of law and social justice. But it could not be properly put into practice and was violated time and again. So, there is no need to go for CA if we cannot draft a better constitution.

There has been a debate regarding whether the CA should be conditional or unconditional. There shou-ld be a certain modality to go for CA polls. In addition, the new constitution must guarantee people’s sovereignty, their individual freedom, right to choose, form government of their choice and hold pluralistic opinions. These are the achievements of the people’s movement, which must be institutionalised through the constitution. The people will never forgive those who betray their sacrifices, aspirations and expectations.

The government together with the SPA and civil society organisations have to do homework before going for CA polls. Although the people’s voice is the decisive factor, it is the political leadership, which must guide them. The SPA and the Maoists must sit together and prepare a draft constitution that can guarantee the rights of the people and make them truly sovereign. Before preparing a draft, a national debate should be initiated about the content of the new constitution. The draft constitution can then be taken to experts for discussions, amendments and revision before going to the people for vote.

The SPA should speak in one voice, and, if possible, the Maoists should also be accommodated in the government so that there is no dispute regarding the content of the constitution. The new constitution must be, at least, one step forward in empowering the people, strengthening democracy, giving freedom to the people and curtailing the powers of the monarchy.

Regarding the status of monarchy, the constitution should give a ceremonial role to the monarch and there should be a provision for holding referendum to decide important matters, including the fate of monarchy. A possible provision can be to authorise the parliament to hold referendum with a two-thirds majority to decide the future of monarchy. There should, however, be no vacuum of either the parliament or constitution in order to avoid sabotage. The CA elections should be held in a free, fearless and fair manner so that people can express their desires without hesitation. For this, the Maoists should be disarmed and a reliable international observation team be invited to observe the polls.