TOPICS: The road to constituent assembly polls

The government-Maoist parleys ended inconclusively last week despite high expectations. The talks were postponed as the seven party alliance (SPA) and the CPN-Maoist leaders could not reach a consensus on arms management and the King’s position. The Maoists have stuck to their demand of abolishing the monarchy while the SPA wants to separate the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army from their arms to guarantee free and fair CA polls.

The two issues seem to be interlinked. The Maoists have agreed that the fate of the monarchy should be decided by the CA polls. But they want to suspend the monarchy till the polls are held. There is no disagreement on this issue between the SPA and the Maoists so far because the monarch has been stripped of all powers and the High Level Probe Commission has questioned the King regarding his alleged involvement in suppressing the agitation, which is akin to suspension of monarchy.

In a democracy, people are the source of supreme authority. Let the people decide what type of monarchy they want, if at all, during the CA elections. To allow the people to express their views freely, let’s create a fearless and cordial atmosphere for polls. That is only possible if the Maoists distance themselves from arms at the earliest. Likewise, the government should ensure that the Nepali Army will not leave their barracks during polls. The UN high level mission is here to assist in arms management, monitor truce and conduct the CA polls. There should be no delay in reaching a consensus on these issues. Besides laying do-wn arms, the Maoists must also halt extortion, intimidation, abduction and harassment of scribes if they want to establish their credibility.

Dissolving the reinstated House of Representatives (HoR) has been one of the main demands of the Maoists. They seem to be in a hurry to dissolve the HOR whereas the SPA wants to keep it alive. But there is not enough ground to dissolve it. The Parliament has done nothing to obstruct the peace process. It has helped by making the King powerless, distancing the army from the monarch and backing the government’s peace initiatives.

The HoR, the only legitimate people’s representative body at the moment, is the outcome of the April’s agitation, and to dissolve it without alternative will not be a wise decision. Only an elected representative body can be an alternative to the Parliament. Therefore, it won’t be wise to dissolve the HoR before the CA elections. The HoR could be adjourned for some time and after holding the CA polls; the CA can take the form of an interim Parliament, which will remain in place till the next Parliament is formed through general elections.

The SPA and the Maoists should shun petty arguments and reach an agreement to meet the mid-June deadline. They agreed on the 12-point pact to launch the April agitation, signed the 8-point pact after their first Summit, then the 5-point agreement to invite the UN to assist in the peace process; now they need to agree on holding the CA polls in a free and fair manner.