Nepal rushes towards President`s rule, emergency

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 - 14:35

Kathmandu: With an unprecedented constitutional crisis set to engulf Nepal and its embattled Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal still refusing to quit, President`s rule and a state of emergency looms ahead for the troubled nation from Friday midnight.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister, who has been refusing mounting pressure by the opposition Maoist party as well as the international community to step down and make way for a new, all-party government, held a long meeting with President Ram Baran Yadav, the constitutional head of state who could become the de facto executive from Friday midnight.

Nepal told the President that he would not knuckle under pressure by the Maoists, who say they will bail out the government only if the Prime Minister resigns.

The Maoists, a former guerrilla party, fought a 10-year war to abolish monarchy in Nepal, once the only Hindu kingdom in the world, and to have an election that would allow the country to get its first constitution drafted by elected representatives.

However, the constituent assembly that was elected two years ago stands to be dissolved from Friday midnight since it failed to complete its task of drafting the new Constitution.

With the dissolution of the constituent assembly, which also serves as the interim Parliament, the government also stands to become dissolved automatically.

The Prime Minister can stave off the crisis by declaring a state of emergency for six months. However, since only a civil war or natural calamity can validate the declaration of emergency, he would aggravate the crisis if he does so.

The only way out is by amending the constitution and extending the deadline.

But to do that, the government needs two-third majority in parliament, a feat that is impossible till the Maoists agree since they are the largest party, holding nearly 40 percent seats in the 601-member house.

The government last week tabled a proposal in parliament to amend the Constitution and extend the deadline without consulting the Maoists. In retaliation, the opposition party tabled a veto proposal.

The house was to have held a vote on Monday to decide the fate of the proposals. However, the battle was put off with the ruling parties urging the former guerrillas to hold one last round of negotiations.

Either the ruling parties and the opposition will have to reach an understanding or the warring motions will be put up for vote in the house.

If the constitutional deadline is not extended, the peace process that saw the Maoists end a decade of armed uprising and return to mainstream politics will also stand in danger of being unravelled.

The main bone of contention between the Maoists and the ruling parties is the former`s guerrilla army.

There are over 19,500 rebel fighters and the government wants them to be disbanded. The Maoists, however, are seeking the fighters` en masse induction into the national Army.

IANS



First Published: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 - 14:35

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