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Nepalese Constituent Assembly Gets Three Month Extension

In the wee hours of Sunday 29th May 2011, Nepal’s major political parties decided to extend the term of the three year old Constituent Assembly (CA) that was scheduled to expire on Saturday at midnight. The assembly has a mandate to carve a new republic and federal statute.

As uncertainties remained, tensions ran high from early Saturday across the county about the fate and future of the CA. A deal was only made possible by dozens of rounds of meetings.

Political squabbling has prevented the Constituent Assembly from drawing up a new constitution after three years of work. Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, NC President Sushil Koirala and PM Khanal signed the deal, according to UML leader Bhim Rawal who read out the agreement.

According to the pact signed by top three leaders of the three major parties – UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress and CPN- UML, the CA term will be extended by three months. The fundamentals of the peace process will be readied within three months. The first draft of the new constitution will be prepared within three months and then the Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal will quit. This will pave the way for formation of a national consensus government, which was one of the major bones of contention among the parties.

Likewise, the Nepal Army will be developed as an inclusive institution by implementing the past agreements among the various parties. Minister for Law and Justice Prabhu Sah tabled the ninth Interim Constitution amendment bill proposing CA’s tenure extension for a year to avert a constitutional crisis. “It has been agreed that within these three months the remaining tasks of the peace process will be completed and the first draft of the constitution will be written,” Chief Whip of Nepali Congress Laxman Ghimire Ghimire said.

Nepal has been undergoing huge political transition following the declaration of Republic and secularism in 2006, when Nepal’s Maoist party agreed to join mainstream politics. The decade long insurgency launched by the Maoist party in 1996 killed more than 13,000 people, thousands disappeared and millions were displaced from their home. After the peace agreement, a people’s uprising flushed out the centuries-old monarchy from Nepal, loosing the Hindu nation’s identity.

About Anil Giri

Writes for The Kathmandu Post, the leading English newspaper in Nepal. Earlier, he was stationed in New Delhi as a Chief of Bureau for The Himalayan Times. He has worked for AHN, the US based new agency, The Guardian, Korea Times and others.

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