Pilgrims’ progress

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has now paved the way for the formation of a new government by announcing his resignation in an address to the Constituent Assembly (CA) yesterday. His resignation follows the signing of an agreement between the SPA members the previous day. The new accord covers the details of the fifth constitutional amendment, including election to the newly created top ceremonial posts of President and Vice President. It also addresses most of the pre-conditions set by the Nepali Congress for handing over power. Now the CA, after amending the Interim Constitution (IC), will take its own course to decide all contentious issues, such as who becomes the first president of republican Nepal and whether ‘opposition’ representation in the National Defence Council should be provided for. The PM’s resignation has not only ended the political row over where he should resign but also broken more than two months of national political deadlock.

The PM’s parting speech contains several points worth pondering, particularly in respect to the onward journey of the political parties. He spoke of the progress of transition so far, mentioning the promulgation of the Interim Constitution, the election to the Constituent Assembly, and the implementation of republic. But he sees confusion still ruling in the country as to the right road ahead, the confusion spreading from the political parties to the media to the others, including the international community. But he stressed, rightly, that the only way out of this confusion was to continue along the path so far taken in arriving at this stage of political development the path of consensus, collaboration and unity between the parties. The importance of Koirala’s statements cannot be overemphasised at a time when the peace process has to be brought to a logical conclusion by providing a governance that inspires public confidence, resolving the outstanding issues relating to the peace process, writing the best possible constitution, and, finally, holding the general election.

Another positive aspect of Koirala’s speech was his assurance that he will always readily cooperate in the task of forging ahead on the basis of political consensus and collaboration, because, as he stressed, this is ‘our strength’. He also warned against the danger looming over the country’s existence if a wrong political course was chosen. Koirala also hinted at a parting of the ways of the political parties in forming the next government when he said that the parties may go ahead even ‘minus Girija Prasad Koirala’, but they should never abandon the path of consensus and unity. His ringing theme was that Nepal’s welfare lay in the country’s existence and honour, as well as resolution of all problems through national unity. The other major parties — the CPN-Maoist and the CPN-UML — have also emphasised political consensus and cooperation for conducting the affairs of state and constitution-making. One wonders whether it is still not too late for the three largest parties to complete the rest of the transitional political journey together as members of the same coalition government, as until now.