Nepal's five major parties demand PM's resignation

Baburam Bhattarai
Kathmandu, May 28: Nepal's five major political parties, including Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, have demanded Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai's resignation, saying his unilateral move to hold fresh election was "unconstitutional".

"The Prime Minister's unilateral move to conduct fresh election by allowing to dissolve the most representative Constituent Assembly was aimed at capturing power and this has created frustration in the minds of the general public," said a joint statement issued by five parties.

"It has ended the politics of consensus and created a situation in which people's democratic rights are suppressed," said the statement signed by NC vice chairman Ramchandra Poudyal, CPN-UML President Jhala Nath Khanal, Rastriya Janata Party leader, president of Madhesi Peoples' Rights Forum Nepal Upendra Yadav and leader of Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum Democratic Sharad Singh Bhandari.

The leaders have demanded Prime Minister Bhattarai's resignation to help create an atmosphere of consensus and to find a way out of the present political crisis.

They issued the statement on Sunday mid-night after holding consultation with President Ram Baran Yadav, shortly after the Prime Minister recommended fresh election.

On Sunday night, Prime Minister Bhattarai held an emergency cabinet meeting and recommended to President to dissolve the Constituent Assembly.

Immediately after the meeting the Prime Minister went to the Rashtrapati Bhawan and conveyed the decision of the cabinet recommending for the fresh election date of November 22.

"We have no other option but to go back to the people and elect a new assembly to write the constitution," Bhattarai said in his announcement broadcast live over television.

However, Sadbhawana Party President Rajendra Mahato blamed the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML for failure to draft the Constitution saying that both parties had blocked the promulgation of the constitution with the provision of federal structure.

Bhattarai also claimed that all the executive powers now rest upon himself and the cabinet headed by him and the present government itself will hold the election.

Prime Minister Bhattarai said that he was compelled to announce the fresh election to the Constituent Assembly as the statu-quo forces did not let them to fulfil the aspirations and wishes of the marginalised, backward and the exploited people who wanted total change in the society.

He said that some political parties (Nepali Congress and CPN-UML) did not allow institutionalisation of the changes brought about through the Peoples Movement of 2006 and obstructed the move to promulgate the constitution based on the principle of federal republic.

Top Nepalese leaders were unable to find a way out to end the political crisis with sharp divisions on contentious issues of Constitution drafting including ethnicity based federal structure.

The Maoists and the Madhesi Front were in favour of a singular ethnicity based federal structure while the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML were in favour of multi-ethnicity based federal structure to be incorporated in the new Constitution.

"Now it is not possible to draft the new constitution from the Constituent Assembly," Maoist chief Prachanda told journalists earlier as he emerged from a crucial meeting at Singhdurbar secretariat.

Tonight's decision was taken after top leaders of the major political parties held consultations with the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly to discuss possible ways to avert the crisis after efforts to draft the Constitution failed.

The Constituent Assembly election held on April 2008 had elected 601 members to a two-year term for drafting a new constitution.

Its tenure has been extended four times. The Supreme Court last week rejected a three-month extension proposed by the cabinet and asked political parties to complete it within tonight's deadline.

Meanwhile, earlier today, half a dozen people including three policemen were injured when the various ethnic groups staging sit-in in front of the Constituent Assembly hall at Naya Baneshwor area demanding timely promulgation of the constitution clashed with the police in the evening, according to the police.

Security has been stepped up in and around the capital to prevent any untoward incident.

The government has mobilised some over 10,000 security personnel in the capital and the army is also kept on alert, according to officials.


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