Congress-UML Government Formation Signed at Midnight, But Another Constitutional Crisis Awaits!

Kathmandu: An agreement has been reached between the two major parties in parliament, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, to form a new coalition government. The agreement was signed at midnight on Monday by Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli.

According to a Congress leader who participated in the talks, it was agreed that the first phase of the government will be led by UML Chairman Oli. In the second term, the government will be led by Deuba.

The agreement includes reforms in the electoral system, the governance system, and the formation of a national consensus government under UML leadership.

However, both leaders have kept the agreement confidential. It has been claimed that they agreed not to make it public immediately since no decision has been made after discussions within their respective parties.

Only a few leaders from Congress and UML were present during the agreement. From Congress, President Deuba, his wife Arzu Rana Deuba, Chief Whip Ramesh Lekhak, and Central Member Gyanendra Bahadur Karki participated.

The meeting took place at the house of Arzu Rana’s brother in Maharajgunj, where the draft of the agreement was read by UML General Secretary Shankar Pokharel and photographed by Arzu Deuba.

The agreement specifies which party will take how many ministries and which party will lead the provincial governments. UML will lead the Koshi, Lumbini, and Karnali provincial governments, while Congress will lead the Bagmati, Gandaki, and Sudurpashchim provincial governments. The Madhesh provincial government leadership will be given to the Madhesi parties.

Additionally, a committee to suggest constitutional amendments, led by former Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha, will be formed to amend the election system and other aspects of the constitution, according to leaders who participated in the meeting. UML General Secretary Shankar Pokharel and Congress Chief Whip Ramesh Lekhak were assigned to draft the agreement.

According to the leaders, a preliminary draft of the agreement for constitutional amendments has been prepared. This draft includes provisions to take MPs elected on a proportional representation basis to the National Assembly and make the Vice President the Chair of the Assembly. It also includes the removal of the proportional representation provision in the provincial assemblies, retaining only directly elected members. The proposal to make the Vice President the Chair of the National Assembly was initially proposed by the Maoists during the drafting of the constitution.

Before the agreement, Congress and UML leaders had visited President Ram Chandra Poudel at the President’s Office, Sheetal Niwas. They reportedly visited to create a situation to call for a government under Article 76(2) of the constitution after Prime Minister Prachanda failed to secure a vote of confidence following UML’s withdrawal of support.

Constitutional experts have stated that if the government under Article 76(2) loses the vote of confidence, it must move to Article 76(3). However, if the Prime Minister under Article 76(2) resigns, the process will begin anew. If Prime Minister Prachanda does not clear the way for a joint government after the Congress-UML agreement, another constitutional complexity could arise.

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