With constitution drafting deadline expiring in 12 days, major political parties in Nepal on Tuesday forged consensus on the two most contentious issues---federalism and form of government.
Ending the ongoing stalemate, Maoists, Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and the conglomeration of Madhesi parties agreed on restructuring Nepal into 11 states.
The agreement could end the numerous strikes across the country by various groups seeking ethnicity-based federalism and others opposing it.
Political parties were also at loggerheads on the formula to restructure the existing 75 districts into federal units with all major parties coming out with different solutions.
After several rounds of deliberations, on Wednesday leaders agreed that a federal commission will decide boundaries of the states and their names will be finalized by the federal assemblies.
Parties also agreed on a mixed form of government with a directly elected president and a prime minister elected by the parliament. They also agreed that parliament will be supreme and the president will be able to dissolve it.
The dispute resolution committee of the Constitutional Committee will later decide how powers are to be shared by the president and the prime minister.
According to senior CPN (UML) leader Madhav Nepal, the parties also agreed on having a 371-member parliament with 171 directly elected members and 140 through first past the post method.
The parliament will also have an upper house with 60 members.
With agreement on these issues, CPN (UML), which had refused to join the newly formed national unity government till date, expressed its willingness to be a part of it.
The deadline for drafting the constitution expires on May 27.