Finally, the uncertainty and confusion surrounding the promised interim arrangements and constituent assembly (CA) elections will formally end next week, when the Interim Constitution (IC), finalised on December 16, will come into force on January 15, the day of Maghe Sankranti. Accordingly, the existing parliament will promulgate the IC and then dissolve itself, making way for the immediate birth of the interim legislature, which will endorse the IC — all on the same day. This will also spell the end of all Maoists’ local governments, making way for transitional arrangements based on all-party consensus, which will also guide all matters relating to the CA elections. This presupposes an effective all-party mechanism from the centre down to the grassroots. Among the tasks vital for the elections are the distribution of citizenship certificates and an update on the electoral rolls. These tasks are strenuous. They require care and, above all, vigilance not only from the political parties, but also from the ordinary citizens and the civil society, because serious lapses or wilful wrongs can have a far-reaching adverse impact.
Now the general public has reason to trust that the CA polls will be conducted by June 14. The Election Commission has said that it is in a position to meet the deadline. As the interim legislature and the interim government will also include the Maoists, the atmosphere of mutual suspicion and the cycle of accusations and counter-accusations between the two sides on the issue of expediting matters pertaining to the CA polls, probably, will not surface again. Besides, other important unfinished business, including major appointments to universities and other organisations, can also be expected to receive immediate attention. Overall, the country should pick up a considerable momentum and a clear sense of direction with the unveiling of the country’s sixth constitution in its six-decade-long constitutional history.
The IC promulgation and the start of UN monitoring of the armies and their arms are scheduled to coincide. The political parties have decided to limit the UN’s role to just this. This is sensible too in that the Nepalis had to seek the UN’s good offices in helping manage the arms because of deep distrust between the warring sides. But the Nepalis have proved that they can take care of all other matters concerning the peace process. Despite the saying that there is many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lips, Monday’s eight-party consensus virtually rendered ineffective efforts of certain quarters, domestic and foreign, to delay the CA polls. It is hoped that the interim government will remove the need to resort to bandhs and strikes which have become daily occurrences, inject some order, and further improve the security situation. As the main goal of the interim arrangements is to hold the CA polls, all efforts should be directed towards making them free, fair, peaceful and credible.