Friday, May 29, 2009

One year on, little progress to show

The Kathmandu Post, May 29, 2009

KATHMANDU, May 28 - Friday marks the first anniversary of the declaration of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. But the process of constitution drafting seems to have taken a backseat with all political parties singing their own little songs.

“It's a matter of serious concern that even the preliminary picture of the new constitution remains unclear although half of the CA tenure has passed,” said political analyst Krishna Khanal. “It seems day-to-day politics has overshadowed the top mission of the country.”

Although the CA started its work from May 28 last year, the calendar of events for constitution drafting was only finalised on November 16 to promulgate the new constitution on May 28, 2010.

The bickering among political parties over the election of president in July and formation of the Maoist-led government only in August caused the initial delay.

The actual process formally started only on Jan. 13 when the chairs of the 14 constitution drafting committees were elected. The inter-party rifts during election of chairs of the CA committees caused the first amendment in the calendar.

The CA committees carried out public opinion campaign from Feb. 27 to March 23, but the calendar was revised yet again as the results could not be processed by the initial deadline of April 23.

The subsequent disruption of parliament for more than one and a half month resulted in the fourth amendment in the CA calendar. Finally, a day after the deadline for submission of the concept papers expired, only one committee did so on May 23.

“Recent political developments have soured relations among parties and impacted negatively on the constitution writing exercise,” said CA Chairman Subas Nembang.

“There have not been basic debates on controversial issues like state restructuring, devolution of power and forms of government, so bringing out the new constitution on time is a challenge,” says Bipin Adhikari, a constitutional law expert.

And dealing with such issues without proper leadership is even harder, said Khanal. After Madhav Kumar Nepal became the prime minister, the Constitutional Co-mmittee has been without its chairman.

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