A 'High Level Political Mechanism' (HLPM) has been formed in Nepal, tasked with moving the country forward from the political impasse in the peace process and the writing of a new constitution. The HLPM is under the co-ordination of the President of the Nepali Congress, Girija Prasad Koirala, and the other two members are Prachad, the President of the United Communist Party of Nepal – UCPN (Maoist), and Jhalanath Khanal, the president of Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML). Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal is the invitee member in the mechanism. The first meeting of the HLPM held on January 19 which constituted a six-member taskforce to prepare its Terms of Reference (TOR) and working procedure within three days.

The HLPM can be seen as positive sign of dialogue amongst the three largest political parties, the UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML. The largest party of the Constituent Assembly UCPN (Maoist) is in the opposition and has been launching protests for the civilian supremacy since last eight months after resign from the government. Indeed, it is not in any of the government structures and the mechanism of peace process. The HLPM can be seen as a way to engage the UCPN (Maoist) in a kind of peace mechanism.

However, the HLPM has already drawn criticisms even before it has begun functioning. The HLPM does not have representation from the all political parties in the Constituent Assembly (CA), and a particularly sensitive point is that it does not contain representation from the Madhesh-based political parties - even though one of the Medhesh-based political parties is the fourth largest party in the CA.

The HLPM has also be questioned on the legal status of its functions. From a variety of angles, people have criticized the decision to form the HLPM, given that there is already an Interim Constitution, the CA and the Parliament. Its status is also unclear; is the HLPM is above the CA and the Parliament?

These questions will surely be answered in the coming weeks. If the HLPM does succeed in ending the current deadlock in the peace process and over the writing of the new constitution, then it will have been a ray of hope for the Nepalese population.

Posted by Ambika Pokhrel, Local Correspondent for Nepal, 21 January 2010