Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal will resign to make way for national unity government as part of deal to avert crisis

Nepal's major political parties amended the interim constitution and extended the term of the Constituent Assembly by three months early on Sunday morning. A five-point agreement among the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the Nepali Congress (NC), and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) was the basis for the consensus.

The Assembly's term ended at midnight on Saturday night.

The deal includes a commitment to complete the fundamentals of the peace process, and prepare a first draft of the new Constitution within three months. It states that Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal will resign to make way for a national unity government.

In accordance with past agreements with Madhesi parties, the Nepal Army will be given an ‘inclusive' character.

The agreement was concluded after almost 15 hours of intra and inter-party meetings, with NC, Maoists, UML and the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) engaged in hectic negotiations through Saturday. The NC and the Maoists initially discussed the details of the peace process, including numbers to be integrated, modality of integration, and end of dual security provided to Maoist leaders. The NC also proposed a limited term extension to finish the tasks related to the peace process and another extension, if necessary, to complete the Constitution. While the final agreement did not go into the specifics of the peace process, the NC's proposal for limited extension prevailed.

Group recruitment of Madhesis into Army

In negotiations with the Maoists, the UDMF asked for group recruitment of 10,000 Madhesis into the Nepal Army, and the government's immediate resignation as precondition for supporting term extension.

But the Maoists said they could, at best, put in a commitment of the Prime Minister to resign for national consensus after extension. The UDMF, however, stuck to its original stance, and was not party to the agreement. As a mark of protest, it did not participate in the House session.

But just as the House session got extended, differing interpretations began emerging on the deal. NC general secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula said his party's understanding was that the Prime Minister would resign very soon, while Mr. Khanal said he would resign only when there was an alternative national unity framework in place.

The parties will also struggle to arrive at a common view on the details of integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants.

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