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Nepal parties get more time to name lawmakers

world Updated: Dec 25, 2013 16:06 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times
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Nepal’s Election Commission has extended the deadline given to political parties to name candidates for the country’s new constituent assembly.

With the second extension ending on Wednesday, parties will now have to submit lists of their candidates within December 30.

The deadline was extended for the third time after parties made a fresh appeal to the commission following the signing of a four-point deal that hopes to end the current political deadlock.

“It was decided to extend the deadline after parties requested the commission for more time. We hope they will stick to this new time limit,” Election Commission spokesperson Bir Bahadur Rai told HT.

The composition of the constituent assembly has been in limbo since November 19 elections when the Maoists were beaten into third place, prompting them to allege fraud and threaten to boycott Parliament.

On Tuesday, the major parties reached a four-point agreement to end the stalemate. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which was part of the deal, has now agreed to take part in the assembly.

The Maoists waged a decade-long civil war and then forced King Gyanendra to step down. They took power in the Himalayan nation after winning elections in 2008.

The intervening years, however, have seen a string of short-lived administrations which have broken down amid bickering among all parties over the terms of a new constitution.

This year, the Maoists won just 80 of the 575 seats up for grabs in the November 19 polls, well behind the centrist Nepali Congress party which won 196 and the Unified Marxist-Leninists which got 175.

Political parties busy in talks to end the impasse had failed to prepare lists of the 335 candidates who will become members of the constituent assembly based on the percentage of votes secured by their parties.

Nepal’s constituent assembly has 601 members of which 240 are directly elected, 335 selected through proportional representation and 26 nominated.

Twenty-six Maoists have already been directly elected to the assembly, but under the terms of Nepal's hybrid electoral system, the party can nominate a further 54 lawmakers.

A new government, which is expected to be led by the Nepali Congress, will nominate a further 26 members to join the 601-member assembly.a