Speaking at the first meeting of the Parliament on Sunday, leaders of Nepal’s political parties committed to drafting the Constitution within a year and reiterated their party positions on a number of issues.

Nepali Congress party president Sushil Koirala called on parties to work together to draft the constitution within a year and to form the new government at the earliest.

Koirala also suggested adopting the agreements reached during the first Constituent Assembly. This suggestion was supported by chiefs of the second and third largest parties – CPN-UML’s Jhala Nath Khanal and UCPN (Maoist)’s Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ – as well as other smaller parties, including Upendra Yadav of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum Nepal. However, Kamal Thapa, Chairman of RPP (Nepal), objected to it. He said his party would not accept adopting the agreements of the last assembly. Thapa urged other parties not to impose the agreements of the last Constituent Assembly as 85 per cent of the members in the House were new faces.

During his address, UML’s Khanal demanded election to the post of President and Vice-President, a demand rebuffed by the Nepali Congress.

UCPN (Maoist) chief Prachanda said it would be a “historic mistake” to view the new Constituent Assembly as separate from the peace process, and warned others not to treat his party as a “minor” one. He also assured that the Constitution would be drafted as soon as possible. “Our priority is drafting of the Constitution, not (formation of) the government,” he said.

Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar of Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (Democratic) argued that the November election has not negated the issues of identity and federalism and asked the parties not to ignore the issues of Madhesi, Tharu, Adivasi and Janajati groups.