For constitution writing, 2014 has been dim and unproductive. The year began with optimism, and ends in despair as relationship among the parties has soured.
In the initial days, the statute drafting process was on track and the Constituent Assembly calendar was duly followed. The selection of five CA committee chairpersons in consensus in April gave hope that the parties would meet the deadline this time around. But the euphoria did not last.
Until September-end, the parties were treading the right path. In an encouraging development, the Committee to Study and Determine Constitutional Records prepared its reports on time. The committee submitted all its reports to the CA by the end of May, identifying the agreed and disputed issues on the basis of the achievement made by the first Assembly.
After intensive discussions, the CA forwarded the disputed issues to the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee for solution, while agreed issues were sent to the Drafting Committee to begin the process of constitution drafting. Another productive task was holding dialogue with various outfits and organisations to solicit their views in the constitution drafting process.
When the parties took up key disputes finally, they failed to make substantial progress. The PDCC had until September-end to settle the outstanding issues but till date it has made no notable progress. If there was an agreement among the parties this year, the new constitution would be possible by the set January 22, 2015 deadline. And the chances have now effectively ended.
This was an opportune year for the parties to complete the historic task. There was no bickering about making and breaking governments as in the previous CA. The opposition parties, mainly the UCPN (Maoist), did not create any obstacles in Parliament. “The second CA took the ownership of the progress made by its predecessor, which is a major achievement. But it’s sad that the parties have yet to settle the contentious issues,” said CA Chairman Subas Nembang.
What was lacking is serious and issue-based discussion among the top leaders. At the end of the year, they entered into the key disputes. They also formed a taskforce to settle the contention but it failed to sort the issues.
Disputed issues right from the first CA–federalism, forms of government, judiciary and electoral system–remain unresolved. Parties have backtracked on the May 15, 2012 agreement.
They had then agreed on mixed names for federal provinces, mixed form of government and electoral system but now they are back to their previous positions.