Nepalese pol parties `inch closer` to deal to extend CA term

Last Updated: Friday, May 28, 2010 - 20:36

Kathmandu: Nepal`s ruling alliance and
the main Opposition Maoists inched closer to a deal to avert a
political crisis following the failure to draft a new
constitution by the parliament, whose term expires on Friday.

Even as the main Opposition CPN-Maoist and the
22-party ruling alliance continued to hold onto each other’s
earlier stance, a ray of hope to end the deadlock has arisen
as both sides have come closer to a deal, according to highly
placed sources.

With barely hours left for the term of the Constituent
Assembly to end, the top leaders of UCPN-Maoist, Nepali
Congress and CPN-UML are currently holding key talks to ink a
deal to extend its term.

Nepal`s ruling coalition last week introduced a bill
in the 601-Assembly to extend the term of the House for one
year so that it can finish the task of framing a new
constitution.

CPN-Maoist party, with nearly 35 percent of the
parliamentary seats, have refused to cooperate in extending
the term of the Assembly till Prime Minister Madhav Kumar
Nepal quits.

The Maoists have asked the ruling alliance for a
timebound agreement for the PM’s resignation, party sources
said.

The 22-party ruling coalition has asked the Maoists to
reach a timebound agreement to manage their combatants,
dissolve the paramilitary structure of the the Young Communist
and to return properties seized during the decade-long civil
war in the country.

Some understanding might be reached before the
deadline expires, sources claimed.

The embattled Prime Minister, who is under pressure
from the Maoists to step down, is scheduled to address the
Assembly in the evening.

However, the crucial Parliament session has been
delayed as the parties were still busy in negotiating a deal.
After the deal is finalise the Prime Minister is
supposed to address the Parliament, whose term expires
tonight.

A large number of people, including civil society
members, human rights activists and journalists, have gathered
outside the Assembly to step up pressure on the political
parties to agree to the extension of the term of the Hosue.

Earlier, the Unified CPN-Maoist Standing committee
directed its members not to vote in favour of the Assembly
extension unless the Prime Minister tenders his resignation.

With uncertainty looming large whether a state of
emergency would be declared and President`s Rule imposed, the
Prime Minister`s office refuted reports that Nepal had
resigned.

In a statement, his Press adviser Bishnu Rijal said
some people had used his fake e-mail address to issue "a fake
statement" about the Prime Minister, having told the
parliament that he was going to resign.

"This is totally false and baseless", the statement
said.

An emergency meeting of the Assembly summoned by
President Ram Baran Yadav failed to secure a breakthrough.

Two years of bickering among the political parties has
produced no agreement on the wording of the new constitution
and the Maoists, the single largest party with 229
parliamentary seats, are refusing to vote for a 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 Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, the two largest
parties in the ruling 22-party coalition, have asked the Prime
Minister not to resign unless the Maoists agree to a six-point
agenda, including the completion of the process of the
integration of the 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.

The failure of the government and Opposition leaders
to resolve disagreements could leave the country without a
functioning legislature.

The expiry of the House will lead to the end of the
mandate of the interim constitution, creating a political
chaos and constitutional crisis, according to experts. They
feel Nepal seemed to be heading towards a constitutional
crisis after the ruling alliance and the main Opposition
refused to budge from their old position for the last few
weeks.

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.

PTI



First Published: Friday, May 28, 2010 - 20:36

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