Nepal's major parties agreed to register a Bill to extend the term of the Constituent Assembly by three months on Tuesday. The term of the CA is set to expire on May 27. If the Bill is approved by the Legislature-Parliament, this will be the fifth extension of the CA.
While parties have been able to resolve many contentious issues, including form of government, there have been sharp differences on the issue of State restructuring and federalism. In the past week, there has been acrimony and clashes between different political and ethnic groups, including instances of communal clashes over names, number and boundaries of future provinces. While the parties had amended the Constitution to shorten its writing process, an extension, leaders argue, was necessary to arrive at a consensus text.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai's political adviser, Devendra Poudel, told The Hindu, “We haven't been able to reach an agreement on the substantive issue of federalism. Time is very short. And we cannot let the CA freeze without the Constitution being written. So there is a political agreement to seek extension.”
The Supreme Court had declared that the current extension of the CA would be the last one, and if the Constitution was not promulgated by May end, the country should go for fresh elections or a referendum. Responding to how they will deal with the SC verdict, Mr. Poudel said, “We will talk to the judges. There are some legal provisions which can be amended. While respecting the judiciary, our aim will be to save the constitutional process.”