Monday, August 6, 2012

Growing President-PM rift exasperating political crisis

KATHMANDU, Aug 6: Growing mistrust between President Ram Baran Yadav and caretaker Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has further aggravated the current political and constitutional crisis in the country.

The latest indication of the growing rift surfaced on Sunday when the president invited political leaders of the erstwhile Constituent Assembly and asked them to arrive at a consensus to overcome the current turmoil. The move appears to have put Bhattarai in a spot.

Those close to Bhattarai say the president´s frequent meetings with top politicians and people from other sections of the society is against his role as a constitutional head of state.

As his continued call for consensus among the parties failed to materialize, Yadav called the politicians to Shital Niwas and reminded them about their role in finding a way forward.

The president is having a hard time taking decisions on various issues, an opposition leader told Republica.“While the opposition parties are asking the president to take necessary steps to relieve the PM from his position and call for a consensus government, those close to the PM say that the president should only act as a ceremonial head of state and endorse whatever the government recommends."

The president is currently sitting on election related ordinances forwarded by the government, with the opposition parties demanding his ´proactive´ role in dealing with the issue.

"The president delaying the endorsement of the cabinet decisions is against defined jurisdiction of the head of state," says a close confidant of the PM. "Therefore, the PM is unhappy with the recent activities of the president as he believes that the constitution doesn´t allow the president to hold frequent meetings with leaders, army chief and other."

"The interim constitution has given a limited role to the president," said Ganga Shrestha, principle secretary to the PM. "The situation will only worsen if he (the president) crosses this limit."

Along with the dissolution of the CA, there are only two institutions left - the president and the PM, Shrestha further said, adding, "The growing misunderstanding between these two will not help overcome the current problem."

Some of those following the development say the president would return the ordinances asking the cabinet to seek consensus. But the sources close to PM say that the government is planning to re-send them to the president withour any changes.

"The president can return the ordinances to the cabinet but the government will resend it," a PM´s aide said. "Then, he simply can´t return it the second time and must endorse it."

The government received a major jolt last week when the president stopped the government from bringing a full-fledged budget without political consensus.

"The way the president frequently issues instruction to the PM to forge consensus with opposition parties in major government businesses has simply annoyed the PM," said a source at Baluwatar. "It is not the responsibility of a ceremonial president to give instructions one after the other."

"It seems that the president under the pretext of the country´s fluid political situation is trying to enjoy the executive rights," the source further said, adding that the PM wants to establish that the executive power rests with him and not the ceremonial head of state.

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