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.


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

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