Parties in ‘issue-based’ talks

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KATHMANDU, APR 10 – The ruling and opposition parties have started “issue-based” negotiations to give a new impetus to the protracted constitution writing process, said leaders involved in talks.

Leaders from both sides have engaged in discussions on numbers, names and borders of provinces with an aim to reach consensus before April 13—the deadline provided to the parties by the Constituent Assembly (CA).

Cross-party leaders involved in the talks said parties are deliberating on possible options to reach an understanding on federalism.

The main opposition UCPN (Maoist) has re-engaged in talks with the ruling parties after the latter decided to allow the CA drafting committee to prepare a preliminary draft of the constitution by incorporating issues resolved so far and continue discussions on federalism. Yet the opposition parties have proposed to seek consensus on federal model before April 13.

As an alternative to the seven-province model proposed by the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN- UML , the opposition Maoist party has hinted that it could agree on six provinces if the other parties accept multiple identity-based federalism or an eight-province model if names of new units are to be decided now.

To seek consensus within the ruling parties’ proposal, the Maoist leaders have proposed a separate province by incorporating three disputed districts in the eastern region—Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari—to Udayapur and Saptari and adjust a few districts of Kailali to Bardiya while federating the country.

The ruling parties have also proposed to form a high-level federal commission to settle the row over provinces’ names and borders. “Discussions are being held on multiple options, but there hasn’t been much progress,” said UML Vice-chairperson Bhim Rawal, without going into details. In a bid to speed up the constitution writing process, the parties are holding discussions in line with preparing a preliminary draft of the constitution by incorporating their positions on federalism. “Discussions are on to incorporate parties’ positions and seek people’s opinion,” said NC Spokesperson Dilendra Prasad Badu.