Kathmandu: Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala today made a fresh appeal to Madhesi parties agitating over a proposed constitution to join its drafting process and help find a peaceful way to end the violent street protests that has claimed 33 lives.
"Violence can never solve political issues. I, therefore, reiterate my call to the agitating parties come forward to sit for dialogue," Koirala said.
Speaking at a programme here to mark the 101st birth anniversary of Nepal's first-elected Prime Minister BP Koirala, he said the people have "mandated us to draft the constitution through the Constituent Assembly and we cannot dishonour the mandate of the people."
"We must shoulder the responsibility entrusted upon us by the people through the second Constituent Assembly," he said.
The Parliament is the highest body where all kinds of disputes and issues can be resolved, Koirala said.
He has already twice written to Madhesi parties, who claim to represent the interests of people residing in plains, to hold talks to find a way out to end the political stalemate.
Southern Nepal has been on the boil since lawmakers from major political parties struck a breakthrough deal on August 15 to divide the country into seven provinces.
The Madhesi parties, disgruntled over the proposal, say the new charter ignores their interests. In protest, the Joint Madhesi Front has enforced a general strike in the plains for the past 26 days and most of the schools, colleges, markets have remained shut, hitting the country's economy hard.
They demand the seven-provinces model be scrapped and they be given more representation and rights in the new charter.
The new constitution's drafting began in 2008, two years after the end of Maoist insurgency during which about 16,000 people died.
"We have already spent eight years since the election of the first Constituent Assembly and we can no more afford to prolong the transitional period as peace, stability, democracy and development cannot be achieved without promulgating a constitution," Koirala said.
He said the government is making all efforts so that the Madhesi parties and other ethnic groups join the drafting process.
Altogether 82 members of the Constituent Assembly belonging to Madhesi and some other ethnic groups have boycotted the constitution-drafting process.
Meanwhile, Madhesi leaders of the Nepali Congress demanded that the Prime Minister postpone the drafting process, which formally began on Tuesday, so as to bring the Madhesi parties to the dialogue table.
At least 33 people, including eight security personnel, have died during the agitation over the past one month.