The Constitutional Committee, tasked with presenting a new Constitution for Nepal by May 2010, has finally got a new chairman — Nilamber Acharya of the Nepali Congress.

Mr. Acharya was elected with 29 votes from the 50 voters of the committee; his only competitor, Narayankaji Shrestha of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists), got 21 votes. The committee had been functioning without a chairman for three months after the former chairman, Madhav Kumar Nepal, was elected Prime Minister in May.

Mr. Acharya was sworn in by the Constituent Assembly chairman Subash Chandra Nemwang. Talking to reporters, Mr. Acharya, who participated in the drafting of Nepal’s Constitution in 1990, said he would accelerate the working of the committee to draft the Constitution in time.

Maoist leader Shrestha, on other hand, claimed his party not getting the chair of the committee would send a wrong message to the people. “It’s a move to sideline the Maoists,” he claimed.

Bomb blast

A bomb exploded outside Vice-President Paramananda Jha’s residence on Friday evening. The police said a woman was injured in the explosion which took place some 50 metres away from the Vice-President’s house. Chief of Metropolitan Police Range, Kathmandu, Navaraj Silwal said the Kirat Republican Workers’ Party, an underground outfit, was behind the explosion. This is the second time Mr. Jha’s residence is being targeted; a small bomb exploded outside his residence last year.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on Friday wrote to Mr. Jha asking him to respect Nepal’s interim Constitution — which says oath of office should be taken in the Nepali language — and the Supreme Court’s decision asking Mr. Jha to retake his oath, which he had taken in Hindi last year, in Nepali. In his letter, the Prime Minister also stated that the Council of Ministers had agreed to amend the interim Constitution to allow the President and the Vice-President to take their oaths in their mother tongue and that the amendment Bill would be discussed in the legislature Parliament, once the Maoists allow parliamentary proceedings to resume. The Maoists have been obstructing the proceedings in protest against President Ram Baran Yadav’s decision to reinstate the Nepal Army Chief in May.

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