Kathmandu: A Nepalese Minister on Tuesday said that
differences had been narrowed between major political parties
over contentious issues that were stalling the peace process,
expressing optimism that the new constitution will be ready
within the deadline of May 28.
Amid concerns over a potential political crisis if the
Constituent Assembly failed to accomplish the drafting till
the extended deadline, Health Minister Rajendra Mahato cited
Mahato said while several issues had been sorted out, some
key issues related to the form of government to be adopted and
integration of former Maoist combatants into the Army were yet
However, he said there was enough time for forging a
consensus, and expressed optimism of meeting deadline. Mahato
was talking to journalists on sidelines of an event announcing
the merger of Kochila Autonomous Council, an indigenous group
representing three districts of south-east Nepal.
Nepal ended a decade-long civil war in 2006 as Maoists
laid down arms and signed a peace accord with the government,
later emerging as the largest political force in the
Constituent Assembly in the first post-war elections.
However, the issue of more than 19,000 Maoist fighters and
their proposed assimilation into the Nepalese Army was one of
the issues holding the peace process.
Mahato said being the largest party in the Constituent
Assembly, Maoists should own up responsibility for the delay
in peace process, and asserted that the peace process should
be completed first before promulgating the new constitution.
He admitted that issues like the federal structure, the
form of governance and ranking of Maoist soldiers continued to
be contentious and were required to be settled soon.
The Maoists had reportedly demanded that the former
combatants be offered higher ranks in the integration process,
but Mahato said the ultras should first dissolve their
paramilitary group, the Young Communist League (YCL), and
return the property seized during the armed conflict.
The Maoist demand has emerged as one of the major hurdles
in the army integration process.
He said his party has been campaigning for an autonomous
Madhes region in the new constitution but added that "we will
not obstruct the constitution drafting process, if other
parties don`t subscribe to our view".
Mahato said though his party favours the stance of
Nepali Congress for a parliamentary system of governance, a
middle way can be worked out to sort out differences.
UCPN-Maoist is against the idea and is favouring a
directly-elected president with full executive powers.
CPN-UML, on the other hand, is for division of state power
between a directly elected Prime Minister and a president
elected through Electoral College.