Kathmandu: Top Nepalese leaders on Friday
intensified consultations to end a political deadlock amid
fears of a constitutional crisis, with the term of the
country`s interim parliament set to end tomorrow.
Leaders of CPN UML and UCPN-Maoist, the two largest
party in the communist-led coalition along with the main
opposition Nepali Congress have started a fresh round of talks
after a deadlock in the morning.
Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal, Maoist chairman
Prachanda and Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala were
among top leaders seeking to end the standoff amid growing
concern over the uncertainty in Nepal`s peace process and
failure of the political parties to agree on a consensus to
promulgate a new constitution by the May 28 deadline.
Over the last few weeks, they have persistently failed
to forge a consensus to push forward the 2006 peace process.
The Communist-led coalition government has registered
a constitution amendment bill in parliament proposing a
one-year extension for the 601-member Assembly, but the
opposition parties have set preconditions for their support.
The opposition parties have asked the Maoists to
rehabilitate their former PLA combatants, return the seized
property and dismantle their paramilitary youth wing, Young
Communist League, so that a consensus can be built on drafting
a constitution and concluding the peace process. They have
also demanded the formation of a national government.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Assembly could be
extended only for six months, as against the government`s
decision for a one-year extension.
Amid growing fears of a political vacuum and a
constitutional crisis, President Ram Baran Yadav yesterday
held consultations with top leaders, including the Prime
Minister, Prachanda and Koirala.
President Yadav asked the political leaders to reach a
consensus and push forward the stalled peace process by ending
the political standoff, which has been hugely damaging for
Nepal that is still reeling from its decade-long civil war
that ended in 2006.
Thousands of people have stepped up pressure on
Nepalese lawmakers to end the deadlock. Normal life was
disrupted in the capital and major cities across the country
due to a general strike called by various groups frustrated by
the failure of the lawmakers to promulgate a new constitution
for the young republic.
Educational institutions, marketplaces and businesses
remained closed. There were few vehicles plying on the roads.
Ethnic Chure-Bhawar Rastriya Ekta Party and other
fringe groups enforced the shut down demanding early drafting
of the constitution and greater rights and representation for
Pro-monarchist Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal
also organised a protest rally in the capital demanding
dissolution of the Assembly and a fresh election.
Nepal Maoists ended its decade-long civil war in 2006
and emerged as the single largest party in the 2008 election.
The Assembly, which was formed after the election, was
originally elected with a two-year mandate -- to end on May
28, 2010 with the promulgation of the constitution.
However, the interim parliament failed to draft a
constitution last year and its term was extended for one year
in a last minute deal among the political parties.