Sticking point

The country today enters the 12th day of uncertainty and indecision concerning the formation of a new government after Prime Minister Thapa’s resignation. In this connection, the King has granted audience to a number of political figures. Several names have been floated, and the latest making the rounds, for whatever reasons, is that of former prime minister and founder member of the Nepali Congress Krishna Prasad Bhattarai. The agitating five political parties are waiting for a collective audience, having rebuffed the separate invitations from the Royal Palace. They have made it clear that “how” and “not who” of government formation is important, insisting on the appointment of the prime minister on their recommendation accompanied with a clear Royal declaration that the “sovereignty and state powers” have been returned to the people. All political parties now favour an all-party government.

However, a sticking point has been the 18-point agenda which seeks to reduce the Royal powers further and which requires constitutional reforms for implementation. The five parties have sought to discuss the agenda with the King, but now, they, particularly the big two parties, seem to be striking a more flexible posture on this issue. Indeed, the contents of the 18-point agenda, put forward by the five parties for conflict resolution in the country, are something that only an elected parliament will have the sole authority to discuss and decide on.

Neither the King nor the political parties have that authority right now. To decide on such matters as constituent assembly or referendum, too, the parliament would be the proper forum. But, right now, there is an urgent need for a powerful all-party government that could resume the peace process with the Maoists and prepare the ground for the elections.

The political parties are expected to pay attention to the present difficult situation in the country whose interests and survival as an independent nation should receive the highest priority from all political forces. There is no doubt about the supremacy of the people. The future course of the country should be steered by a constitution at least no less democratic than the 1990 Constituion. But certain processes have to be fulfilled and had better wait for some time. For example, the 18-point agenda should be dealt with at an appropriate time and place, not now. At the same time, the agitating political parties should play a central role in forming and enabling the next government to re-activate the constitutional processes. But, ultimately, peace, prosperity and democracy revolve round the Maoist agenda. The elected people’s representatives will have to address the rebels’ demands properly to realise these goals.