Nepal agrees to extend Constituent Assembly term; PM to quit

Nepal political parties agreed to extend the Constituent Assembly term by one year as part of a deal.

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.


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