BALUWATAR TALKS: Government, Maoists reach historic agreement

Source: Kantipuronline.com

By Akhilesh Tripathi and Suresh Nath Neupane

KATHMANDU, Nov 8 – The ruling seven-party alliance and the Maoist rebels have finally reached a historic agreement putting an end to the decade-long armed insurgency. The different rounds of informal meetings and “summit meets” held between the two sides since May, after the collapse of the autocratic royal regime, have finally resulted in agreements on all political and arms issues, paving way for the Maoist rebels to join the political mainstream.

The groundbreaking agreement comprising six major points was reached after 21 hours of rigorous discussions between the two sides during the fifth round of summit talks that took place on Monday and Tuesday at the Prime Minister’s Residence at Baluwatar.

The historic agreement was signed by the top leaders of all the eight parties and made public on Tuesday night (Nov 8, after 1 am).

As per the agreement, an interim legislature and interim government including the Maoists will be formed by November 26 and December 1, 2006, respectively.

The total number of lawmakers in the interim legislature will be 330 with the Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML, Nepali Congress-Democratic (NC-D), Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), People’s Front Nepal (PFN), Nepal Majdoor and Kisan Party (NMKP) and Nepal Sadbhavana Party (NSP) retaining the number of seats they have in the existing parliament in the interim legislature also.

Including Upper House, the NC, UML, NC-D, RPP, PFN, NMKP and NSP (both) have 75, 73, 42, 8, 5, 1 and 5 seats respectively in the existing parliament.

The Maoists will have 73 berths in the interim legislature. The remaining 48 seats will be divided among the SPA, Maoists, other fringe parties and the civil society.

The two sides have also agreed to promulgate the interim constitution on November 21. The king will have no constitutional right in the interim constitution. The reinstated House of Representatives (HoR) will announce the interim constitution which will be endorsed by the interim legislature on the same day. The HoR will be dissolved after issuing the interim constitution.

An interim government including the Maoists will be in place by December 1 after the two sides sign a comprehensive peace agreement by November 16. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala will lead the interim government.

The task of separating the Maoist combatants from their arms will be completed by November 24. The Maoist combatants will be kept in “seven divisions and 21 brigades” and their arms will be locked up in storages. Electronic devices will be installed in the storages so that any attempt to tamper with the locks and movement in the storages will trigger a siren. The monitoring and supervision of the Maoist arms will be done by the UN.

The cantonments will be located in Kailali, Surkhet, Rolpa, Palpa, Kavre, Sindhuli and Ilam. Possession of any illegal weapons by anybody after the Maoist combatants are kept in cantonments with their arms locked up will be a punishable act.

An equal amount of weapons of the Nepal Army, too, will be locked up in a storage under the same system. The Nepali Army, apart from the soldiers guarding wildlife reserves, national parks, electricity and telecommunications towers/installations etc, will be confined within their barracks until the CA elections are held.

The two sides also agreed to decide the fate of the monarchy through the first sitting of the constituent assembly (CA). The UML, which has been insisting on deciding the issue of monarchy through a referendum, however, registered a “note of dissent” on the agreement on monarchy. Besides, the property of late king Birendra and his family will be converted into a trust mobilised by the government, and the property of King Gyanendra that he had inherited as the king will be nationalised.

There will be a 425-member constituent assembly. 205 members of the CA will be elected from the existing 205 electoral constituencies. The parties will nominate 204 members based on the number of votes they will get in the elections for the 205 members. The Prime Minister will nominate the remaining 16 members.

The two sides have also agreed on a mixed electoral system (proportional and geographical) for the constituent assembly elections, with the UML again tabling a note of dissent on this issue as well. The UML had been pressing for a proportional system for the CA elections.

An agreement has also been reached to form a Constitutional Court to resolve disputes pertaining to the CA elections.

All Nepalis above 18 years of age will be eligible to cast their votes in the CA elections which will be held by mid-June 2007.
Posted on: 2006-11-07 21:04:22 (Server Time)

Source: Kantipur Online Posted on: 2006-11-08

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