Nepal agrees to extend Constituent Assembly term; PM to quit
Last Updated: Saturday, May 29, 2010, 12:07
  
Kathmandu: Nepal political parties tonight agreed to extend the term of Constituent Assembly by one year as part of a crucial deal under which Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal agreed to step down.

The deal was struck by top leaders of UCPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML with just hours left for the expiry of term of the Constituent Assembly, Nepali Congress general secretary Bimalendra Nidhi told a news agency.

As per the agreement the Prime Minister has assured the Maoists that he will tender his resignation at an appropriate time to pave way for formation of a government on the basis of consensus among the political parties, he said.

The major parties have also agreed to conclude the peace process and expedite the process of drafting new constitution by forging collaboration.

Nepal's ruling coalition last week introduced a bill in the 601-Assembly to extend the term of the House by one year so that it can finish the task of framing a new constitution.

CPN-Maoist party, with nearly 35 per cent of the parliamentary seats, have refused to cooperate in extending the term of the Assembly till Prime Minister Nepal quits.

Meanwhile, the Maoists withdrew a protest notice issued earlier at the parliament to veto a government Bill seeking extension of the Constituent Assembly by a year.

"As the major parties have agreed to extend the term, we are withdrawing the protest notice," UCPN-Maoist leader Dev Gurung said.

A national consensus is needed to draft the new constitution and the parties have agreed to move ahead by forging a consensus, he said.

The Maoists, the single largest party with 229 parliamentary seats, had refused to vote for the bill to extend the term of the 601-member Constituent Assembly unless the Prime Minister stands down.

Even a last minute appeal by the UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon urging the leaders to put national interest first failed to impact the lawmakers.

The meeting of the Assembly to vote on the eighth constitution amendment bill to pave the way for extension of the term of the House has been put off since Monday.

The term of the current parliament, elected in 2008, was set to end at midnight today.

The Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, two largest parties in the ruling 22-party coalition, had asked the Prime Minister not to resign unless the Maoists agree to a six-point agenda, including completion of the process of integration of PLA combatants with the security forces and the dissolution of their paramilitary structure of the Young Communist League, the youth wing of the former rebels.

Political tensions have been high in Nepal since a government led by the Maoists resigned last year amid a dispute with the country's President over the reinstatement of former army chief Rukmangad Katawal, who was dismissed by the Prachanda-led government last May.

Later, Chairman of Constituent Assembly Subhash Nemwang officially declared that the eighth amendment to the interim Constitution has been endorsed after Law and Justice Minister Prem Bahadur Singh tabled the motion.

Voting was conducted to endorse the motion at past midnight. Altogether 585 votes were cast out of which 580 were in favour of the motion and five against it, thereby easily getting the required two-third majority support.

The Parliament was then adjourned till Monday.

PTI


First Published: Saturday, May 29, 2010, 12:07


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