Nepal parties agree to extend term of Constituent Assembly

STANDOFF: Police stand guard as supporters of the UCPN(Maoist) block an entrance to the Constitutional Assembly in Kathmandu on Friday.   | Photo Credit: PRAKASH MATHEMA

Nepal political parties on Friday night agreed to extend the term of the Constituent Assembly by one year as part of a crucial deal under which Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal agreed to step down.

The deal was struck by top leaders of the UCPN-Maoist, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML with just hours left for the expiry of term of the Constituent Assembly, Nepali Congress general secretary Bimalendra Nidhi told PTI.

As per the agreement, the Prime Minister had assured the Maoists that he would tender his resignation at an appropriate time to pave the way for formation of a government on the basis of consensus among the political parties, he said.

The major parties also agreed to conclude the peace process and expedite the process of drafting new constitution by forging collaboration.

Nepal's ruling coalition last week introduced a bill in the 601-Assembly to extend the term of the House by one year so that it could finish the task of framing a new constitution.

The CPN-Maoist party, with nearly 35 per cent of the parliamentary seats, had refused to cooperate in extending the term of the Assembly till Prime Minister Nepal quits.

Withdraw protest notice

Meanwhile, Maoists withdrew a protest notice issued earlier at Parliament to veto a bill seeking extension of the Constituent Assembly by a year.

“As the major parties have agreed to extend the term, we are withdrawing the protest notice,” UCPN-Maoist leader Dev Gurung said.

A national consensus was needed to draft a new constitution and the parties have agreed to move ahead by forging a consensus, he said.

The Maoists, having 229 parliamentary seats, had refused to vote for the bill to extend the term of the 601-member Constituent Assembly unless the Prime Minister stands down.

Even a last minute appeal by the United Nations 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 term of the current Parliament, elected in 2008, was set to end at midnight of Friday.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 3:05:17 PM |

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