Kathmandu, May 15:
Three major parties- the UCPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, and United Democratic Madheshi Front have finally reached an agreement on the number of federal states, system of governance, electoral system, citizenship and the system of judiciary after long disputes and differences.
A meeting of the major political parties and the UDMF held on Tuesday at the official residence of the Prime Minister at Baluwatar, agreed on the five major contentious issues of the new constitution.
The leaders have agreed on 11 federal units based on ethnicity, geography and language. Regarding the form of governance, they have decided to adopt a model in which the president will be directly elected by the people while the prime minister elected by the parliament will exercise executive powers.
Emerging from the meeting after the agreement, the leaders said that the settlement of these long disputed issues has paved the way for the promulgation of the constitution within the slated deadline of May 27.
However, 11 federal provinces agreed upon by the parties are yet to be named. A Federal Commission will decide on the names and demarcation of these units after holding consultations with provincial assemblies and the Constituent Assembly. The parties have agreed on the formation of a federal commission and give it necessary authority.
The Federal Commission will resolve disputes that may arise in course of the delineation of the federal units. In case some issues remain unresolved, the commission can seek the opinion of the people to give it the final solution, the leaders said.
The directly elected president will be the head of the state and the prime minister an executive chief of the council of ministers.
"Both the president and the prime minister will exercise executive powers in a balanced way," said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha.
The federal parliament will have a total of 371 members. The Lower House will have 311 members out of which 171 will be directly elected by the constituents while 140 will come through proportional representation.
The Upper House will have 65 members. Each of the 10 federal provinces will nominate 5 members each to the Upper House and the rest of 10 members will be nominated by the council of ministers from among prominent personalities in the national life.
According to the agreed provision of the new constitution, citizenship can be issued under the name of both father and mother. The leaders agreed to issue citizenship certificates under the name of the mother in special cases.
Regarding the judiciary, the leaders have agreed for independent judiciary and a provision of a constitutional court for five years.
Emerging from the meeting, UDMF chairman and Home Minister Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar told the reporters that the UDMF has reservation over the agreement citing that major three parties agreed on these issues with important decisions still pending.
The contentious issues are yet to be finalized such as the naming and demarcation of the federal provinces, Gachchhadar said.
He said that the president will have power of dissolving government and the parliament and announce a state of emergency under the recommendation of the council of ministers and remaining accountable to the parliament.
However, he said that the UDMF will not be a hurdle in the constitution writing process.
NC leader Ram Chandra Poudel termed the agreement a historic one which has paved the way for the promulgation of the new constitution.
"As the parties reached the historic consensus on five major topics, promulgation of a constitution as desired by the people has become possible," Poudel said.
CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal lauded the agreement and said that the constitution has been guaranteed by this consensus.
Leader Nepal expressed his confidence that the UDMF will join the consensus though it has some reservations.
Meanwhile, CPN-UML has decided to send party General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel and leader Radha Gyawali to the government led by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai.