Legislative Branch Reform: Comprehensive Peace Agreement
3.2. To constitute Interim Legislature - Parliament as per the Interim Constitution, to have the elections to Constituent Assembly held by the Interim Government in a free and fair manner within June 15, 2006 and to practically guarantee sovereignty inherent in the Nepali people.
Once the House of the Representative was reinstated, the government started to consult the Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists on a draft of the interim constitution. This process started before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed on 21 November 2006. On 16 June 2006, the government of Nepal and the Maoists agreed to form an Interim Constitution Draft Committee (ICDC) and complete a draft interim constitution within 15 days. On 7 July 2006, the government asked the ICDC to begin its work. The committee submitted the draft for the interim constitution on 25 August 2006. However, the interim constitution was not adopted in 2006 and therefore an interim legislature was not established in that year.
The interim constitution was promulgated on 15 January 2007.1 The document established an interim power sharing legislature whose representatives would be comprised from all the political parties, including all the members of the dissolved parliament. In the agreement, members of the dissolved parliament who supported the King were excluded.2 A 330-member interim parliament was established by the interim constitution. The constitutional provision regarding the interim legislature reads as follows (Article 45):
45. Constitution of Legislature-Parliament
(1) There shall be a unicameral Legislature-Parliament in Nepal, which shall consist of the following 330 members as set out in schedule 2.
(a) 209 members of the seven political parties and other parties who were sitting as elected members of the House of Representatives and National Assembly immediately before the commencement of this Constitution. Explanation: The phrase "Seven Political Parties" means Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (UML), † Janamorcha Nepal, Nepal Sadbhawana (Anandidevi), Nepal Majdur Kisan Party and Samyukta Bam Morcha (United Left Front), which reached a political understanding on Kartik 22, 2063 (November 8, 2006),
(b) 73 members on behalf of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), (c) 48 members nominated by consensus from the Samyukta Bam Morcha, people-based and professional organizations, oppressed communities, backward regions, indigenous ethnic groups[Adivasi Janajati], and from among women and various political personalities.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in clause (1), persons who were against the People's Movement shall not be in the Legislature-Parliament.
(3) The Legislature-Parliament shall be conducted on the basis of political consensus. (4) The term of the Legislature-Parliament shall come to an end following the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly. (5) If any seat of a member of the Legislature-Parliament falls vacant, for any reason, the vacancy shall be filled for the remaining period by nomination by the same political party or group, which the member was representing.
The 330 member interim legislature met for the first time on 15 January 2007. The interim legislature was designed to be replaced by the Constituent Assembly once the CA elections took place. The elections for the Constituent Assembly, however, did not take place as scheduled.
The Constituent Assembly (CA) elections took place on 10 April 2008. The mixed electoral system elected 240 members on a first-past-the-post basis, and 335 members on the basis of a proportional representation system. The remaining 26 members were nominated by each political party present in the CA.3 The Maoists won 120 seats in the first-past-the-post portion of the elections, and 100 seats in the proportional representation portion. The NC won 37 seats in the first-past-the-post elections and 73 proportional representation seats. The Communist Party of Nepal- United Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) won 33 first-past-the-post seats and 70 proportional representation seats. MPRF obtained 30 first-past-the-post seats and 22 proportional representation seats, while the other two UDMF parties between them won 13 first-past-the-post seats and 16 proportional representation seats.4 After the elections for the Constituent Assembly were held, the interim parliament was dissolved. The CA was convened on 28 May 2008. The CA is highly representative in terms of the number of seats held by women, minorities and Dalits.
The composition of the CA and the use of the PR system in the CA elections both suggest that a greater reform in the legislative branch of the government has transpired. Furthermore, ethnic minorities and linguistic groups were now able to use their own language in the CA. Nevertheless, a final modality of the composition of the legislative branch of the government was yet to be finalized in the constitution.
The final constitution was due on 28 May 2010 and was expected to provide the modality of the legislative branch of the government. Nevertheless, the major political parties had yet to agree on the modality of the legislative branch of the government, especially the number of seats and the type of electoral system.
The CA failed to come up with the final draft of the constitution, which was due on 28 May 2010. The CA’s tenure was extended by one year.5 The number of seats and the type of electoral system of legislative branch had not been finalized.
- 5. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations (S/2010/453), September 2, 2010.
The CA failed to deliver the final constitution, even after the extension of its tenure by one year in May 2010. The tenure of the CA was extended again on May 28, 2011, this time for another three months. However, contentions over the modality of the legislature, along with other contentious issues, still remained unresolved.
In May 2012, the parties reached an agreement on the constitution of federal parliament, which was said to have 371 members with 311 members in the lower house and 60 members in the upper house. Among 311 members in the lower house, 171 members were to be directly elected and 140 through the proportional representation method.6 This agreement, however, faltered because the Constituent Assembly was dissolved on 28 May 2012 without promulgating the constitution.
- 6. "Parties Agree on 11-Province Model," Myrepublica, May 15, 2012.
No substantial progress was recorded in 2013 as the elections for another CA took place in November 2013.
Major political parties within the Constituent Assembly established the Committee for Constitutional, Political Dialogue and Consensus Building (CCPDC) with responsibilities to settle disputed issues in the constitution making processes. Former rebel leader, Baburam Bhattarai was elected unopposed as the chairman of the CCPDC on 25 April 2014.7 One of the issues was the electoral system. In September 2014, the CCPDC submitted its final report, and the CCPDC was not able to force consensus among political parties on electoral system among other issues.8. The CCPDC reported that the structures and the formation of the legislative body, formation of the upper house, and provincial parliaments were settled.9
In December, positive discussion among political parties was reported. On the issue of the electoral system to elect members of the legislative branch, it was reported that the parties are close to agreeing on a mixed electoral system suggesting a certain number of legislatures be elected directly and a certain number of legislatures based on proportional representation. However, the exact ratio is still to be sorted out.10
- 7. "Bhattarai elected chairperson of CA's political dialogue comm," Nepal News, April 25, 2014.
- 8. "CCPDC submits report to CA," Kathmandu Post, September 13, 201)
- 9. “CCPDC submits report to CA,” Kathmandu Post, September 13, 2014.
- 10. “Parties in ‘positive discussions’ to settle contentious subjects,” Kathmandu Post, 11 December 2014.
The disagreement on the electoral system could not be sorted out by the 22 January due date for the draft of the constitution.11 After the massive earthquake on May 12, political leaders representing the big four parties in the Constituent Assembly met to discuss the constitution issue on 31 May, and agreed to settle all key issues within a few days and produce a draft constitution through fast-track.12 On 9 June, 4 major political parties reached 16-point agreement to deal with the contentious issues.13 The CA approved the draft constitution on July 7 forpublic feedback.14 The draft constitution provided a bicameral parliament comprised of the federal legislature parliament and the upper house. There will be 275 members in the legislature parliament of which 165 will be elected through first-past-the-post system and the rest (110 members) will be elected through the proportional system. The Upper house will have 45 members of which 40 members will be elected equally from each federal province and five will be nominated by president on the recommendation of the council of ministers. Provincial parliaments will be unicameral. The constitution requires that the parties must elect at least one-third women representatives in the federal legislature as well as the provincial legislature.
- 11. “Nepal fails to draft new constitution before promised deadline,” Xinhua News Agency, January 22, 2015. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-01/23/c_133941628.htm
- 12. “Big 4 agree to settle key disputes in next 3 days,” Republica, May 31, 2015
- 13. “Way paved for constitution as four parties reach 16-pt deal,” Kathmandu Post, June 9, 2015.
- 14. “CA concludes deliberation on draft constitution, sends for public feedback,” Himalayan Times, July 7, 2015.