Nepal: Fresh elections to be held on Nov 22

In an attempt to overcome the current political crisis, it has been decided that fresh elections to the Constituent Assembly will be held on November 22 this year.

Kathmandu: Fresh elections to the Constituent Assembly in Nepal will be held on November 22 this year; the coalition government announced minutes before the midnight deadline tonight to promulgate the Constitution.

The cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, held an emergency meeting and also recommended to President Ram Baran Yadav to dissolve the Constituent Assembly, Health Minister and key Madhesi leader Rajendra Mahato said.

Immediately after the meeting the Prime Minister went to the Rastrapati Bhawan and conveyed the decision of the cabinet recommending for the fresh election date.

The Constituent Assembly election held on April 2008 had elected 601 member Constituent Assembly for drafting a new constitution.

Nepali Congress has raised strong objection to the Prime Minister`s announcement of fresh election without consulting other major political parties.

"This is conspiracy and we will expose the move," said Nepali Congress vice president Ramchandra Poudyal.

"The Prime Minister`s move was totally against the constitutional provision and also illegal," he said.

"We have proposed to convert the Constituent Assembly to function as Parliament so that it could complete task of drafting the constitution, but the Prime Minister unilaterally announced the election which is totally against the law," he said.

However, Sadbhawana Party President Rajendra Mahato blamed the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML for failure to draft the Constitution saying that both the parties had blocked the promulgation of the constitution with the provision of federal structure.

Top Nepalese leaders were unable to find a way out to end
the political crisis with sharp divisions on contentious issues of Constitution drafting including ethnicity based federal structure.

The Maoists and the Madhesi Front were in favour of a singular ethnicity based federal structure while the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML were in favour of multi-ethnicity based federal structure to be incorporated in the new Constitution.

"Now it is not possible to draft the new constitution from the Constituent Assembly," Maoist chief Prachanda told journalists earlier as he emerged from a crucial meeting at Singhdurbar secretariat.

Tonight`s decision was taken after top leaders of the major political parties held consultations with the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly to discuss possible ways to avert the crisis after efforts to draft the Constitution failed.

The Constituent Assembly election held on April 2008 had elected 601 members to a two-year term for drafting a new constitution. Its tenure has been extended four times.

The Supreme Court last week rejected a three-month extension proposed by the cabinet and asked political parties to complete it within tonight`s deadline.

Meanwhile earlier today, half a dozen people including three policemen were injured when the various ethnic groups staging sit-in in front of the Constituent Assembly hall at Naya Baneshwor area demanding timely promulgation of the constitution clashed with the police in the evening, according to the police.

Security has been stepped up in and around the capital to prevent any untoward incident.

The government has mobilised some over 10,000 security personnel in the capital and the army is also kept on alert, according to officials.