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Nepal government, Maoists readying new Constitution

The two parties are giving finishing touches to the new Constitution draft that will pave the way for a new government and more reforms.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2006 17:32 IST

The Nepal government and Maoist rebels are giving finishing touches to the draft of a new Constitution that will pave the way for a new government and more reforms.

Though a committee of experts had drawn up the first draft of the new Constitution two months ago that was to be promulgated last Sunday, Nepal missed the deadline due to differences between the conflicting parties over the management of arms and armies of both the sides.

The new code is expected to be finalised early next month. Once it is ready, Nepal's current parliament will be dissolved to make way for a new one in which the Maoists - a decade after living with the terrorist tag - will send their representatives.

The new government's main task will be to hold constituent assembly polls by June. The assembly will then, at its first meeting, decide between monarchy and a republic.

The new constitution was also held up due to disputes over the position of King Gyanendra.

Some parties in the coalition, including Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and his Nepali Congress, wanted to retain the monarch as a ceremonial king without any powers and leave his fate to an election scheduled next year when voters would decide if they want a republic or the crown.

However, after signing two treaties on peace and arms, the Maoists were pressing for the suspension of monarchy in the new constitution and stripping the king of his assets.

In the end, a compromise was cobbled together and the rebels persuaded to keep the king, divested of all administrative powers, till the election to be held in June.

The government and the guerrillas also signed a much-awaited pact on Tuesday on laying down arms, clearing another obstacle in the way.

First Published: Nov 30, 2006 17:32 IST