The term of the president and vice-president has emerged as one of the major dispute among political parties in Nepal after the Nov. 19 Constituent Assembly (CA) election.
Political parties, legal experts and analysts are divided over the constitutional provisions regarding the tenure of the head of the government who was elected in 2008 by the first CA which dissolved May last year. The interim constitution has a provision that the tenure of the president would validate till the promulgation of a new constitution.
"The term of office of the president shall be until the commencement of the continuation of the constitution to be promulgated by the Constituent Assembly," says Article 36 (C) of Interim Constitution 2007. The constitution is, however, silent on the tenure of the vice-president.
Some political parties want continuation of incumbent President Ram Baran Yadav on the basis of the provision of constitution, while others say such a provision was applicable only for the dissolved CA and new CA should elect a head of the state as per the people's mandate.
The UCPN (Maoist), which has emerged as the third largest party in the second CA, has proposed the re-election of the president, saying that it is a basic principle of democracy to elect a new head of the state in every five years.
"In the new context, new president and prime minister should be elected through sovereign house," UCPN (Maoist) leader Harlibol Gajurel told Xinhua.
Some leaders of CPN-UML, which has secured second position in the election, have also proposed a re-election but it has not made any official decisions yet.
Nepal adopted the presidential system and overthrew the 240- year long monarchy in 2008. The current president is the first president of republic Nepal. After the dissolution of the CA last year, the government collapsed but the tenure of the head of government is continued.
Nepal's head of government, who is also supreme commander of the national army and protector of constitution, holds ceremonial posts and does not enjoy executive powers. All the executive powers are vested on prime minister elected from the parliament.
However, the position of the head of government often comes into dispute in Nepal regarding its boundaries and responsibilities. In 2008, the president overturned the decision of the then government to remove the army chief, which resulted in the dismissal of the government led by Maoist party.
After the dismissal of the government, relations between the head of government and the Maoist party soured. The Maoist party also launched street protests against the head of government for exercising the executive power.
Nepali Congress, the largest party in the second CA, is in favor of the continuation of the current president, saying the tenure of president is legitimate till the promulgation of a new constitution. President Yadav served as a senior leader of Nepali Congress before becoming head of the state.
Like political parties, Nepal's legal fraternity is also divided about the term of the president and vice president. "There is no need to elect a new president before the promulgation of a new constitution," Constitutional Expert Bhimarjun Acharya told a group of journalist on Sunday.
But some legal experts say a new president should be elected as per the new mandate of the November election, saying that it is a political issue, not a constitutional one. Hari Krishna Karki, chairman of Nepal Bar Association, an umbrella organization of Nepalese professional layers, said a new president should be elected as per the new constitutional mandate.