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Constitutional crisis:Which first, government or National Assembly?

By Our Reporter
Nepals-ConstitutionWith the successful conclusion of the elections to the House of Representatives and State Assemblies, the country should have entered a new phase of political stability. But it could not happen as the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML made the formation of the National Assembly an issue of ego, creating confusion about the next political course.
The Nepali Congress had made it clear that the present government would remain in power until the formation of the National Assembly (NA), the upper house of the bicameral federal parliament. The UML had countered it stating that formation of the NA and the new government was two different things. Above all, the Office of the President has kept the National Assembly Ordinance on hold, probably at the instruction of the UML. And without Ordinance, the NA cannot be formed.
On the other hand, the Election Commission has been in difficult position to announce the final results of the elections held under the proportionate electoral system stating that the number of women to be elected in the House of Representatives cannot be fixed without holding the election to the NA.
The UML leaders are arguing that the government can be formed without forming the NA. They say once the EC submits the final results to the President, the President can initiate the process to elect the new prime minister. However, the EC officials a few days ago said the final results could not be made public without holding the NA elections.
The Nepali Congress leaders, including Krishna Sitaula have said that the present government would not quit without accomplishing the task of holding the NA elections.
However, the CPN-Maoist Centre has termed the issue as a political one, and it should be sorted out by forging political consensus. An extended meeting of the party on Monday concluded that the row between the UML and NC over NA election was a political issue.
Of course, trading of words between the UML chief K P Oli, who is set to be the next Prime Minister, and the NC leaders has made the situation more complicated.
Together with the leaders, the lawyers have also been divided regarding the constitutional provision to elect the NA as they tend to interpret the constitution in favour of the party they support.
The President has also been dragged into controversy for siding the UML. Of course, the Constitution does not allow the President to reject any proposal sent by the Council of Ministers. Hence, if the President approves the Ordinance, the present problem will be resolved. But Oli is not ready to accept the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system provisioned in the Ordinance.
Now the dispute will be solved only if the CPN-Maoist Centre chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal takes initiative to convinces both Oli and Prime Sher Bahadur Deuba to accept the middle path to unknot the present crisis. The row will also be resolved if the President endorses the NA Ordinance.

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