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Statute drafting takes a hit in power politics

world Updated: Feb 28, 2011 00:36 IST

Hindustan Times
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Nepal is supposed to have its new constitution in exactly three months. But as the May 28 deadline draws closer, it seems lawmakers will fail the Himalayan nation yet again.

Nine months ago, failing to meet the cut-off date, the Constituent Assembly members gave themselves another 12 months to complete the task. But statute drafting again became casualty to politics.

The first month of the extended deadline was spent on trying to remove the prime minister of a government enjoying majority to replace it with another based on consensus.

After the PM was gone, the next seven months were exhausted in a race for the important seat involving the three main parties-Nepali Congress, Maoists and Communist Party of Nepal.

Finally after 17 rounds of elections and an amendment in the interim constitution, the deadlock was broken and CPN (UML) chief Jhalanath Khanal became the PM with the Maoists' support.

But resolution of one impasse led to another. This time the cause was a secret deal for power between Khanal and Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda'.

Maoist unhappiness with Khanal's party not respecting the 'main spirit' of the deal and the home ministry being denied to them led to a standoff that saw another month getting wasted. With most tasks remaining behind schedule and the CA calendar getting revised several times, it seems unlikely that Nepal will get a new statute in another 87 days.

Last minute quick-fix solutions are a norm in Nepal and something dramatic may happen this time around too.

Khanal who terms conclusion of the peace process and drafting the new constitution within the extended deadline as his main priority still appears confident of achieving this feat.

But not many share his buoyancy and murmurs of protest have already started. Another extension of the time limit seems the only way out at present.