Nepal’s open secret; new constitution unlikely on time | world | Hindustan Times
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Nepal’s open secret; new constitution unlikely on time

It’s an open secret that would become official in few weeks. Nepal is almost certain to miss the May 28 deadline for adopting a new constitution.

world Updated: Mar 19, 2010 12:36 IST
Utpal Parashar

It’s an open secret that would become official in few weeks. Nepal is almost certain to miss the May 28 deadline for adopting a new constitution.

With just 10 weeks remaining for completion of the constitution-drafting process and loads of work left to be done, political parties agree, albeit in hushed tones, that it’s impossible to meet the deadline.

“Every major party agrees that the constitution will not get drafted on time. But no one is admitting it publicly for fear of becoming unpopular among the masses,” said a senior Nepali Congress leader.

Earlier this month the Constitutional Committee failed to submit the first draft of the constitution on time and till date only two of the 10 thematic committees have submitted their reports.

The calendar of the constitution-drafting process has been amended 10 times due to delay. However, the May 28 deadline has remained unchanged.

While political compulsions are stopping parties from admitting the inevitable, the interim constitution is most likely to be amended to extend the constitution drafting deadline of the Constituent Assembly.

The interim constitution has the provision that the May 28 deadline can be extended by 6 months if the constitution drafting process is incomplete. But it comes with a rider.

The time limit can be extended only if the delay has been caused due to declaration of emergency in the country. As no such eventuality has happened—there is confusion of how the amendment will take place.

Some say that once the deadline is reached, a state of emergency would be declared and the interim constitution amended. Others are of the opinion that no time limit should be kept for completing the process.

“It was wrong to keep a two-year deadline for drafting the new constitution. If the time limit has to be extended, no time frame should be kept for completing the work at hand,” said a CPN (UML) CA member.

As confusion reigns, the main opposition party UCPN (Maoists) is trying to topple the present coalition government and come to power. Constitution drafting meanwhile keeps getting delayed.

Optimists, however, still view that the major parties will all agree to big compromises and will arrive at consensus on all contentious issues to meet the deadline instead of plunging the country into further chaos.