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Nation close to constitutional crisis

world Updated: May 26, 2011 23:25 IST
Utpal Parashar

Nepal is inching closer to a constitutional crisis as parties deliberate on extending the tenure of the Constituent Assembly, which has failed to deliver a new statute within the May 28 deadline.

Two days of talks held on Wednesday and Thursday involving leaders of three major parties—ruling Maoists and Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) and opposition Nepali Congress failed to arrive on any consensus.

“We had serious deliberations on all issues, but have not been able to reach any consensus yet,” Maoist vice-chairman Mohan Vaidya told newspersons after the meeting at Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal’s residence.

While Maoists and CPN (UML) are insisting on extending the CA tenure one more time to draft the new constitution, Nepali Congress wants Maoists to first give up arms and fulfill other past promises.

Another round of meeting will take place on Friday to end the deadlock. Tenure of the CA ends on Saturday midnight and if it’s not extended by that time, Nepal stares at a constitutional crisis.

Nepali lawmakers had amended the interim constitution in May last year and given themselves another year to conclude the peace process and draft a new constitution. Both tasks remain unfinished.

Worried at the developments President Ram Baran Yadav had a meeting with senior leaders of all three major parties at his residence on Thursday morning and urged them to arrive at consensus soon.

On Wednesday, acting on a petition, a Supreme Court bench had ruled that the CA tenure should not be extended for more than six months as per provisions in the interim constitution.

Differences on the number of former Maoist combatants to be integrated into the security forces and handing over of arms held by the former Peoples’ Liberation Army are slowing the peace process.

There is also lack of consensus among the political parties on restructuring of the country into states, type of government and electoral system—all crucial issues that need to be incorporated in the new statute.