Delay In New Government Formation

 

 

Uttam Maharjan

It has been over a month since the elections to the provincial and federal governments were held. The elections gave a thumping victory to the left alliance against the Nepali Congress, under which the caretaker government is in place now. There was one voice all around that Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba should resign on moral grounds due to the humiliating defeat his party suffered at the elections. But the Prime Minister has not stepped down yet, reasoning that he will make way for the new government only after the elections to the National Assembly (NA).

Protest

Now, the date for the NA elections has been fixed for February 7, 2018 and the Election Commission is making preparations to hold the elections. However, the government has not been able to appoint provincial governors. As per the constitution, the governors administer the oath of office and secrecy to senior-most members of the provincial assemblies, who, in turn, administer the oath to other members.The government also sought to fix provincial capitals of the seven provinces but had to back down amid growing protests by the locals demanding their city or town be declared the capital of their province. Such protests are still raging across the country. However, there is consensus on fixing capitals for provinces 2 and 6 and so there is no debate in these provinces about the capitals.

As per the constitution, the provincial assemblies can fix their capitals at their first meetings with a two-thirds majority. The capitals to be fixed by the government will not be permanent; the provincial assemblies can change them. The government is under pressure to appoint the provincial governors and fix the temporary provincial capitals of the seven provinces in order to facilitate the holding of elections to the National Assembly.

The other issue relates to the nomenclature of the provinces. There may also arise controversy at the time of naming the provinces. Some people are hell-bent on naming the provinces along the ethnic lines. Such a proclivity for naming the provinces ethnically may give rise to racial discord. It may not be reiterated that the country has been able to maintain racial harmony for centuries. Although there are over a hundred races, there has been no racial strife till now. Therefore, it will do well to name the provinces after geographical or religious names.

The people are eager to see a new government in place. But due to constitutional hurdles, the Election Commission has not even announced the results of the elections under the proportional category to the provincial assemblies. It is saying that the results of theelections to the provincial assemblies will be handed over to the provincial governors, who are yet to be appointed.

The government is contemplating appointing the provincial governors on the basis of consensus with the political parties. This serves to show that the spoils system will be at work in appointing the governors. The governors should be capable persons. But those appointed along partisan lines may not be capable of looking after the provincial assemblies. The spoils system is detrimental from every angle.

On the other hand, political consensus is like a rara avis in the country. Every political party tends to blow its own trumpet. Every party tends to think that its agendas are right. And every party tends to stick to its guns. In such a situation, forging political consensus proves to be a tough proposition. It was for lack of political consensus that the constitution could not be promulgated in time. Is not there any mechanism other than the spoils system to appoint qualified and competent provincial governors?

At a time when the date for the holding of the NA has been fixed, the government and the political parties should not make any delay in appointing the provincial governors, fixing the provincial capitals of the provinces and holding the NA elections. Such inordinate delay in forming the provincial assemblies and the federal parliament does not bode well for the country at a time when it is all set to adopt a truly federal system of governance.The people are sick and tired of the transition period that has been in place for over a decade. A decade of transition cannot be considered a normal period. On the other hand, there has been no progress in resolving issues relating to transitional justice for the victims or their relatives regarding enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings during the insurgency period.

So it is high time the new federal system were adopted through the consensus and synergy of all the political parties. The new governments at the federal and provincial levels should also be allowed to run a full term. Changing governments frequently has given rise to political instability, which has been haunting the country since the multi-party democracy was reinstated in the country in the 1990s. The new system of governance should usher in a new era, an era which is marked by political stability and development.

Lofty goal

The country has a lofty goal of graduating to the status of developing country by 2022. For this to happen, development works need to be given impetus. In this regard, an investment-friendly environment needs to be created so that various sectors of the economy such as industry and hydropower can be developed to the desired extent. Therefore, the government and the political parties should be honest towards the development of the country by letting bygones be bygones and starting with a clean slate under the new federal system.

 

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