Cri­sis Averted

Southasia - - Briefing -

Nepal’s po­lit­i­cal par­ties averted a cri­sis on May 29 by reach­ing a last-minute deal that ex­tended the dead­line for a new con­sti­tu­tion. Prime Min­is­ter Jha­lanath Khanal agreed to step down as part of the deal.

The deal pre­vented Nepal from tum­bling into the po­lit­i­cal un­known. A spe­cial leg­isla­tive body, known as the Con­stituent Assem­bly, that was charged with draft­ing a con­sti­tu­tion was sched­uled to ad­journ if a deal had not been reached. An­a­lysts warned of a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis if Nepal had been left with­out a con­sti­tu­tion.

But lawmakers fi­nally agreed to ex­tend the Con­stituent Assem­bly by three months. The ri­val par­ties agreed to in­tro­duce the draft of a new con­sti­tu­tion dur­ing that pe­riod and to ad­dress ques­tions about the fate of 19,000 for­mer Maoist fight­ers and their weaponry.

Nepal has been em­broiled in con­tentious po­lit­i­cal ne­go­ti­a­tions for more than a year over the shape of the con­sti­tu­tion as well as the fi­nal de­tails of a peace agree­ment that ended a bloody Maoist in­sur­gency.

The Con­stituent Assem­bly was elected in 2008 with a man­date to draft a con­sti­tu­tion within two years. Yet lawmakers had been un­able to reach a deal be­cause of dis­trust and dif­fer­ences among the ma­jor par­ties. A year ago, a sim­i­lar 11th hour deal was re­quired to pre­vent the dis­so­lu­tion of the leg­isla­tive body.

One of the big­gest ob­sta­cles is the un­re­solved fate of for­mer Maoist fight­ers who are liv­ing in camps around the coun­try. Un­der the peace agree­ment, many of the fight­ers are to be in­te­grated into Nepal’s se­cu­rity forces, but the par­ties have been un­able to agree on the de­tails.

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