Another poll without constitution appears to be Nepal`s fate

There has been an unbridgeable divide between the parties in the ruling coalition and those in the opposition in Nepal.

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2012, 21:22 PM IST

Kathmandu: Nepal appears all set for a fresh election after a crucial all-party meeting failed to agree over the federal structure to be adopted for the country, leaving little room for reinstating the Constituent Assembly that was marred by four years of political wrangling.

There has been an unbridgeable divide between the parties in the ruling coalition and those in the opposition in Nepal over what type of federal structure to adopt in the constitution.

While the UCPN-Maoist and other parties in the ruling coalition are in favour of single-ethnicity based federal model, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML are for federating the country into a multiple-ethnicity-based model.

The high-level meeting aimed at finding a way out of the current stalemate this evening was attended by Maoist chief Prachanda, Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML chairman Jhanalath Khanal and convener of Joint Democratic Madhesi Front Bijaya Gachhadar.

However, the meeting ended inconclusively.

"The parties failed to reach an agreement on the issue of federating the state, therefore, it would be meaningless to reinstate the Constituent Assembly for the purpose of drafting the new constitution," Nepali Congress general secretary Prakash Man Singh said after the meeting.

He said the Maoists had "back-tracked" from their earlier decision regarding the federal structure and therefore it is unlikely that an agreement would be reached on the contentious issues of the constitution and there was now no other way out than going for a fresh election.

Nepal in 2008 elected the Constituent Assembly that was tasked with the job of drafting a constitution for the post- monarchy country, and completing the peace process. However, severe ideological and political disagreements prevented parties from achieving a constitution.

The CA that was given several extensions was dissolved after the Supreme Court ruled against any further prolonging of its tenure.

The parties have, however, agreed to meet again on Friday to discuss other key issues such as modalities of conducting election and formation of a national government.

"We will further discuss the modalities and framing rules and regulations of the fresh election," Singh said.

Earlier in the day, Nepal`s ruling coalition had made up its mind to go for fresh elections to the Constituent Assembly, as the opposition NC and CPN-UML parties continue to oppose their idea of a single ethnicity based federal structure for the country.

A meeting of the coalition partners UCPN (Maoist) and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) held at the Prime Minister`s official residence took a decision to this effect, sources close to the ruling alliance said.

"The ruling parties have agreed to go for fresh CA elections if the NC and UML did not agree on the ethnic identity based federalism to be incorporated in the new statute before reviving the CA," Sadbhawana Party chairman Rajendra Mahato said.

Nepal has plunged into a constitutional crisis after the Constituent Assembly was dissolved on May 27 without the promulgation of the constitution.

The parties were discussing the option of reinstating the dissolved CA to promulgate a constitution, but they no consensus could be reached on what will the federal structure would be in the constitution.

Singh said Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai should immediately step down to pave way for formation of national government before going for fresh election.

As per the five point agreement reached among the parties last year Nepali Congress should lead such a consensus government, he claimed.