Powersharing Transitional Government: 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 Seven Political Parties-led government started consulting with the coalition leadership and the Maoists on stripping the King’s power and drafting an interim constitution. This process began before the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on 21 November 2006. On 16 June 2006, the government of Nepal and the Maoists agreed to form an Interim Constitution Draft Committee (ICDC) to complete the draft interim constitution within the time frame of 15 days. On 7 July 2006, the government asked the ICDC to begin its work. The committee submitted the draft interim constitution on 25 August 2006. The modality of transitional government was explained in the interim constitution. Yet the constitution’s promulgation was delayed until the agreement on the implementation of the monitoring of arms and army management (AMMAA) began. This was established according to the CPA, signed on 21 November 2006, and the Monitoring of Arms and Army Management, signed on 8 November 2006.1
- 1. "SCHEDULE-2 RELATING TO CLAUSE (2) OF ARTICLE 167," Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007.
The interim constitution was promulgated on 15 January 2007.2 According to the constitutional provision, a consensus government was to be formed until the final constitution was agreed upon and promulgated. The following includes the interim constitution’s provision on power sharing in the interim government:
38. Constitution of Council of Ministers: (1) The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers under the chairpersonship of the Prime Minister shall be constituted by political consensus.
Explanation: For the purpose of this Constitution, "political consensus" means the political consensus reached between the seven party Nepali Congress: NCPN(UML), Nepali Congress (Democratic), Janamorcha Nepal, Nepal Sadbhawana Party (Anandidevi), Nepal Majdur Kisan Party, Samyukta Bam Morcha Nepal and NCP(Maoist) on 22 Kartik 2063 (November 8, 2006).
(2) If consensus cannot be reached, pursuant to clause (1), the Prime Minister, shall be elected by a majority of two-thirds of the members of the Legislature-Parliament.
(3) The structure and the allocation of business of the Interim Council of Ministers shall be determined by mutual understanding.
(4) The Council of Ministers shall consist of Deputy Prime Minister and other Ministers as required.
Explanation: For the purpose of this Article, the word 'Minister' shall also mean the Minister of State who takes independent responsibility of a Ministry.
(5) While appointing Ministers, the Prime Minister shall appoint them, on the recommendation of the concerned political party, from amongst the members of the Legislature-Parliament.
(6) The Prime Minister and the other Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislature-Parliament, and the Ministers shall be individually responsible for the work of their respective Ministries to the Prime Minister and the Legislature-Parliament.
(7) The Prime Minister shall be relieved from his/her office under the following circumstances:
a) If a written resignation is submitted to the Speaker of the Legislature Parliament,
b) If he/she ceases to be a member of the Legislature-Parliament; or
c) If he/she dies.
(8) The Deputy Prime Minister, Minister, State Minister and Assistant Minister shall be relieved from their respective offices under the following circumstances:
(a) If a written resignation is submitted to the Prime Minister,
(b) If the Prime Minister is relieved from his/her office pursuant to clause (7) above,
(c) If he/she is relieved of his/her office by the Prime Minister upon the recommendation of or consultation with the concerned party, or
(d) If he/she dies.
(9) If the Prime Minister is relieved from his/her office pursuant to clause (7) above, the existing Council of Ministers shall continue to function until a new Council of Ministers is constituted.
(10) In the case of the death of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister or the senior-most Minister shall act as the Prime Minister until a new Prime Minister is selected.
According to this constitutional provision, a power-sharing government was formed on 1 April 2007. The Seven Party Alliance and Communist Party of Nepal- Maoist (CPN-M), or the “the eight parties,” formed an interim Government under Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala. In the interim government, the CPN-M held 5 out of 22 Cabinet positions. Maoists also shared legislative power in the interim legislature with 83 representatives out of 330 members.3
After the Constituent Assembly elections took place in April 2008 and the Maoist party established itself as the largest party in the assembly. A delay in the formation of a consensus government prompted the Fifth Amendment to be added to the interim constitution. The Fifth Amendment was adopted on 13 July 2008. It provided the basis for the formation of a majoritarian government.4 Political parties could not agree on the consensus government and therefore the election for the prime minster took place on 15 August 2008. The Maoist leader Puspa Kamal Dahal was elected Prime Minister with 464 out of 601 votes. His opponent, Sher Bahadur Deuba from the Nepali Congress (NC) party , received 113 votes. After the CA elections, the NC decided not to join a national government and remained in the opposition, in particular because the Maoists and the NC could not agree on division of Cabinet Ministries. The NC did not join the government without getting the Defense Ministry in its share, which the Maoists declined. The Maoist leader Dahal was sworn in as Prime Minister on 18 August 2008.5
The consensus and power-sharing government that was expected to work until the final draft of the new constitution did not last. This is the reversal from the provision of 2006 CPA and the Interim Constitution of 2007.
The Maoist government made a controversial decision to dismiss the Chief of Army Staff, General Rookmangad Katawal. President Ram Baran Yadav did not approve the Cabinet decision and directly instructed Katawal to continue to work as the Chief, which prompted the resignation of the Prime Minister Dahal on 4 May 2009.6 A new coalition government of 21 parties was formed under Madhav Kumar Nepal, a leader in the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML). This was on 23 May 2009.7 This was a coalition government that excluded the largest party in the Constituent Assembly: the Maoist party. The power sharing consensus government did not materialize in 2009.
The Madhav Kumar Nepal government resigned following the extension of the Constituent Assembly for another year in May 2010.8 Nevertheless, Nepal continued to work as a caretaker prime minister until 3 February 2011 as the CA was not able to elect a new prime minister. Efforts were made to form a consensus government but parties failed to do so.
- 8. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations (S/2010/453), September 2, 2010.
In February 2011, Jhala Nath Khanal, a leader from the CPN-UML, formed a coalition government with the support of the Maoist party. Political parties were still trying to form a consensus government but had not been successful.
This failure to form a consensus government resulted in the failure of the Constituent Assembly to complete its task of producing a final draft of the constitution. The tenure of the CA was extended for the second time in May 2011 for three months. It was set to expire on 28 August 2011. Prime Minister Khanal resigned on 14 August 2011, as his government could not jumpstart the stalled peace process to pave the formation of the national consensus government.9 Parties failed to form a consensus government again and a majoritarian government was formed under the leadership of the Maoist party leader Babu Ram Bhattrai on 28 August 2011.10 He became the fourth prime minister within the tenure of this Constituent Assembly. He had support from Madeshi based political parties.
Efforts to establish a national consensus government to bring all political forces together and finish the dual task of completing the peace process and drafting a constitution remained unmet even after the extension of the tenure of the Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly failed to deliver the constitution on 28 May 2012 even after extending its tenure by an additional two years. The parties, nevertheless, realized the need for a unity government, which never materialized in post-CA election periods until September 2012.
While the former rebel party and other parties believed that the unity government would be ideal for drafting and promulgating a constitution and completing the peace process, the establishment of the national unity government did not happen this year.
A powersharing government was not established in 2014. In the second constituent assembly elections held in November 2013, none of the parties won the required seats to form a majoritarian government. After the election, the Nepali Congress Party and the Communist Party of Nepal - United Marxist and Leninist formed a coalition government on February 10, 2014.11
After the earthquake on 12 May 2015, the constitution drafting process stalled as the focus of the government shifted to post-earthquake reconstruction. As dissatisfaction among key leaders within the governing coalition and the opposition parties (including the former rebel group) grew over the handling of relief and reconstruction activities, parties started to talk about the formation of the national unity government.12 As of July 2015, however, the unity government has not been reestablished.
- 12. “Political Aftershocks,” Nepali Times, Issue 760, Page 4, May 29, 2015 http://nepalitimes.com/regular-columns/The-deadline/political-aftershock....