HLPC flexibility puts CPN-M in quandary
The High-level Political Committee (HLPC)’s “strategic offer” that it is ready to postpone the election date if the poll-opposing parties make a commitment to drafting a new constitution has put the CPN-Maoist in a quandary. The HLPC on Thursday said that it is ready to reschedule the election if the CPN-Maoist commits to drafting the new constitution through the Constituent Assembly. As the HLPC proposal apparently confused the party, there has not been any progress in negotiations . Instead, the agitating party is busy in talks with the government. HLPC leaders say the talks are “meaningless” as the CPN-Maoist has put forth tough political demands.
CPN-Maoist chief Mohan Baidya called a Politburo meeting of the party to discuss ways to respond to the HLPC proposal. According to sources, the central leaders had differing views. Leaders Ram Bahadur Thapa, Dev Gurung and Pampha Bhusal, among others, said the party should commit to the CA if the HLPC is ready to push the polls to March next year. If the vote was deferred, they said, the party would have sufficient time to chalk out a future roadmap. “We haven’t protested against election in principle, but there should be an agreement among the parties on the contentious issues of the new constitution beforehand,” said Gurung.
While, Netra Bikram Chand, Khadga Bahadur Bishwokarma and Kul Prasad KC said such commitment would be suicidal as the party’s official line is “revolt on the foundation of the people’s war”. Chairman Baidya, however, is undecided but agrees faintly with Chand in that the party should boycott the polls, said a leader. Chand maintains that if the party decides to go to the polls, there should be unification with the UCPN (Maoist) or the party should prepare for a revolt.
“If we go for election, we should be honest to say that the party split was unnecessary and to reunite with the UCPN (Maoist),” a leader quoted Chand as telling the meeting. In recent days, Chand has expedited informal talks with Nepali Congress and CPN-UML leaders. The HLPC plans to hold a “decisive dialogue” with the CPN-Maoist . But the party is shying away from talks and buying time. On Saturday, on behalf of the HLPC coordinator, Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala pressed Baidya for dialogue. But Baidya said they needed a couple of days citing the talks going on with the government and the necessary preparations. “We want to hold a decisive dialogue with the CPN-Maoist as soon as possible,” said UCPN (Maoist) senior leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha.
The HLPC has already said it is ready to adopt flexibility on the CPN-Maoist demands. “If the CPN-Maoist is ready to join the election process, we are ready to fulfil their demands,” said NC spokesperson Dilendra Badu. The HLPC constituent members are of the view that if the CPN-Maoist makes a commitment to the CA election it will be an achievement as the party’s official line is revolt.
“If it fails to commit to the election, it would be easy for us again because we can tell the people that the CPN-Maoist is against the CA election,” said a Maoist leader. “There might be some personal interests with the election but the party is firm that a CA under the current circumstances is meaningless. So we won’t be part of it,” said CPN-Maoist leader Hari Bhakta Kandel. The documents passed by the party’s Pokhara jamboree and those endorsed by the national convention last year are silent on CA.
Chand’s foil-poll call
LAMJUNG: CPN-Maoist Secretary Netra Bikram Chand said on Saturday that an untoward situation was looming large over the country as the government was preparing to hold Constituent Assembly election unilaterally. Speaking at a press conference in Beshisahar, Chand said his party would obstruct the CA polls at any cost. He added that his party was determined to foil the polls.
“The CA poll is a decision of four major forces and Khil Raj Regmi-led government. So, major political parties will be responsible for the bitter consequences,” he said. “The country needs election to draft constitution but an all-party consensus is a must. We will participate in polls but only after an agreement among all the parties on all contentious issues through a round table conference.”
Polls as planned even if Baidya stays out: EC
KATHMANDU, AUG 19 – The Election Commission (EC) is all prepared to hold the Constituent Assembly election as scheduled on November 19 even if the Mohan Baidya -led CPN-Maoist does not be part of it. According to the EC, holding elections after November would be a complicated affair if the scheduled polls are deferred.
“With or withour Baidya, we are all set to hold the polls as scheduled. There is no point in postponing them.” a senior EC official told the Post on Sunday. EC officials, however, say ‘some technical problems’ remain and poll-opposing parties and underground armed outfits are threats to the security situation during the elections. “Security will be tight if Baidya boycotts the elections, while the government must support us with a special security plan,” the official said. Nepal Police lacks around 35,000 security personnel when it comes to providing security to the around 18,000 polling booths in 10,006 locations. EC officials say at least 100,000 security personnel will be required in the 240 constituencies.
Questioning their efficiency and impartiality, the EC has rejected the Nepal Police headquarters’ plan to recruit temporary police personnel for the elections. Sources close to the Ministry of Home Affairs said the government is preparing a plan to give a “certain role to the Nepal Army” to ensure free and fair elections. The ministry is awaiting the outcome of the ongoing talks between the major parties and the Baidya-led 33-party alliance before submitting the Integrated Security Action Plan to the EC.
Talks between govt and fringe parties deferred for Monday
KATHMANDU, Aug 18: The talks scheduled to be held Sunday between the government and dissenting 33 parties including the CPN-Maoist has been postponed for Monday. The talks to begin at 3:00 pm today was postponed for tomorrow after the government side sought time until tomorrow citing need to do additional homework, said member of the presidium of Socialist Democratic Party Pasang Sherpa.
The second round of the talks between the government and the 33 party alliance will begin tomorrow afternoon at 3:00, he added. The first round of talks between the two sides were held on Friday. The government had invited the agitating 33 parties for a dialogue in order to address their demands including the formation of a party-led government, a round table conference and postponement of the election programme.