Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06KATHMANDU3256
2006-12-20 09:10:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

NEPAL'S INTERIM CONSTITUTION INITIALED

Tags:  PGOV PREL PTER MARR UN IN NP 
pdf how-to read a cable
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PP RUEHCI
DE RUEHKT #3256/01 3540910
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 200910Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4245
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0598
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO PRIORITY 5427
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 4790
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 5159
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 3426
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 0707
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA PRIORITY 2935
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 1385
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2258
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KATHMANDU 003256 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/20/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER MARR UN IN NP
SUBJECT: NEPAL'S INTERIM CONSTITUTION INITIALED

REF: KATHMANDU 3014

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Nicholas J. Dean. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).

Summary
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KATHMANDU 003256

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/20/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER MARR UN IN NP
SUBJECT: NEPAL'S INTERIM CONSTITUTION INITIALED

REF: KATHMANDU 3014

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Nicholas J. Dean. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).

Summary
--------------


1. (SBU) On December 16, the Seven-Party Alliance (SPA) and
the Maoists signed the much-anticipated interim constitution.
While the 77-page document places the fate of the monarchy
in the hands of the constituent assembly, it strips the King
of all powers vested in the head of state and transfers them
to the Prime Minister. The interim constitution also
provides for a unicameral parliament and stipulates that
Constituent Assembly elections will be through dual
balloting. Once the existing parliament ratifies the interim
constitution, an interim parliament will be formed that
includes the Maoists. The interim constitution changes the
sequence of events as agreed in the November 8 agreement,
permitting the promulgation of the interim constitution and
the creation of the interim parliament when UN arms
monitoring begins rather than waiting until it ends.

Powers of Head of State Transferred from King to Prime
Minister
-------------- --------------


2. (SBU) Nepal's interim constitution, agreed upon by the
Seven-Party Alliance (SPA) and the Maoists in the early hours
of December 16, transfers the King's powers to the Prime
Minister during the interim period and stipulates that the
fate of the monarchy will be decided at the first meeting of
the Constituent Assembly. In addition, the property of King
Gyanendra and his brother, deceased King Birendra, acquired
in their capacity as head of state will be nationalized. For
all practical purposes, the Prime Minister is now acting as
head of state. Specifically, the Prime Minister will chair
the Council of Ministers (responsible for appointing
ambassadors and commissioners),the Constitutional Council
(responsible for appointing the Chief Justice and other
senior officials),and the Security Council (responsible for
appointing the Chief of Army Staff). The Constitutional and
Security Councils have six members, three of whom are

appointed by the Prime Minister. (Note: Political party
interlocutors have indicated that the SPA and Maoists have
agreed that council decisions will be made by consensus only.
However, this is not mentioned explicitly in the interim
constitution. End Note.)

Prime Minister vs. Speaker of the Parliament as Head of State
-------------- --------------


3. (C) According to Yubaraj Sangroula, Professor of Law at
the Kathmandu Law School and expert legal advisor to the
political parties, the authority given to the Prime Minister
was agreed upon only after heavy debate between the SPA and
Maoists. The Maoists had pushed for the Speaker of the
Parliament to be declared head of state while the political
parties had pushed for the Prime Minister to be given that
title, he said. The Maoists ultimately comprised on this
issue in order to achieve other goals, such as explicit
mention of the right to employment and land reform.

Election of Constituent Assembly By Dual Ballots
-------------- ---


4. (SBU) According to the interim constitution, Constituent
Assembly elections will be held in June 2007. The body will
have 409 elected representatives and 16 appointed
representatives from civil society. Of the 409, 205 will be
elected on the basis of geographical representation
(so-called first-past-the-post) and 204 will be elected on
the basis of proportional representation. As such, two
ballots will be used: one on which voters will select a
particular candidate and another on which voters will select
one of the political parties. Parties will be allocated a
share of the 204 proportional seats based on the percentage
of support given to them on the second ballot. Names will be
drawn from party lists, on which, according to the interim
statue, 1/3 of the candidates must be women. The interim

KATHMANDU 00003256 002 OF 003


constitution is silent on the inclusion of ethnic minorities
within the party lists. Inclusion of 16 civil society
members is intended, according to Sangroula, to enhance the
capacity of the assembly to deal with technical legal aspects
of drafting the permanent constitution.

Diluting the Maoists' Strength
--------------


5. (C) When asked about the large, and perhaps cumbersome,
size of the Constituent Assembly, Sangroula explained that
Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal - United
Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) leaders had agreed on the number
of elected representatives as part of a joint strategy to
dilute the strength of the Maoists. Their assumption, which
Sangroula agreed with, was that the Maoist organization
lacked the depth of expertise and international experience of
the political parties. Even with a large Maoist
representation in the Constituent Assembly, he said, the
joint strength and experience of NC and CPN-UML would enable
the two parties to better influence the drafting of Nepal's
constitution. Sangroula believed that, if NC and CPN-UML
worked together, they could complete a permanent constitution
within six to seven months after the formation of the
Constituent Assembly.

Promulgation of the Constitution and the Interim Parliament
-------------- --------------


6. (SBU) The interim constitution states that the existing
parliament will promulgate the document based on a 2/3
majority. Ratification will trigger dissolution of the
existing parliament and formation of the interim "legislative
parliament." The interim statute reaffirms the earlier
November 8 agreement between the SPA and Maoists regarding
the composition of the interim parliament. The legislative
body will be unicameral and will have 330 members, based
primarily on the representation within the existing
parliament. Therefore, as such, the NC will retain 75 seats,
the CPN-UML will retain 73 seats and the Nepali Congress -
Democratic (NC(D)) 42 seats. The SPA and Maoists agreed that
the Maoists would be allocated the same number as the CPN-UML
with 73 seats. Additionally, the interim constitution
reserves 48 seats to be appointed by the various parties in
an effort to make the interim parliament more inclusive of
women, "dalits" (untouchables) and ethnic minorities.

Comment
--------------


7. (C) Some party members have complained that the SPA gave
the Maoists too much. They point in particular to the
language regarding the King, the provision of the right to
employment and implementation of land reform. One NC(D)
leader complained that the SPA's chief negotiator, Home
Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, is under Indian Government
influence and, therefore, too willing to compromise with the
Maoists. Local cartoonists have portrayed Sitaula giving
away everything, including the clothes on his back, to the
Maoists, leaving him only with a "topi" (hat). Fortunately,
transferring the King's authority to Prime Minister Koirala
ensures that the SPA will continue to shape the government's
agenda.


8. (C) Agreement on an interim constitution prior to
completion of arms management and cantonment of Maoist
combatants has changed the sequence of events the SPA and
Maoists agreed upon on November 8 (reftel). Some changes in
the sequence were probably inevitable given the unrealistic
timetable of the November 8 agreement. According to the
December 16 agreement, the interim constitution will be
promulgated once UN monitoring of Maoist combatants and their
arms begins instead of at the end of that process. The
interim parliament will be stood up immediately thereafter.
From our perspective, the most important step will be the
entry of the Maoists into the interim government. That step
will not happen until the entire UN arms monitoring process
is complete. Including Maoists in the parliament in the
short term might allow the political parties to delay
inclusion of the Maoists in an interim government where they

KATHMANDU 00003256 003 OF 003


could have much more influence and power.
DEAN