Deal paves way for new Nepal con­sti­tu­tion


Nepal’s main po­lit­i­cal par­ties have reached agree­ments on sev­eral dis­puted is­sues that could lead to the draft­ing of a much-de­layed con­sti­tu­tion in the Hi­malayan na­tion.

The agree­ment was signed by lead­ers of the four main po­lit­i­cal par­ties af­ter hours of ne­go­ti­a­tions at Prime Min­is­ter Sushil Koirala’s res­i­dence.

The agree­ment says Nepal would have eight fed­eral states. A spe­cial com­mis­sion will be formed to de­cide on the ex­act bor­ders of the states, while their names will be de­cided by the state as­sem­blies when they are elected.

Par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal fight­ing has de­layed an agree­ment on the con­sti­tu­tion, which was ini­tially sup­posed to have been drafted by 2010.

The par­ties were un­able to agree on the num­ber of states, their for­ma­tion and their names. Some of the po­lit­i­cal par­ties had in­sisted that the states had to be based on the eth­nic groups rep­re­sented in the area while oth­ers wanted them based on ge­o­graph­i­cal ter­rain.

An at­tempt by the gov­ern­ing par­ties ear­lier this year to present a draft of the con­sti­tu­tion at the con­stituent as­sem­bly ended in a vi­o­lent protest in­side the as­sem­bly hall, where op­po­si­tion mem­bers broke chairs and desks, and threw mi­cro­phones and shoes at the speaker. The protest spilled into street protests and a na­tion­wide gen­eral strike.

The lat­est agree­ment was signed by United Com­mu­nist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the main op­po­si­tion party.

The four par­ties that signed the agree­ment have many more votes than the two-thirds of a ma­jor­ity in the 601-seat as­sem­bly that are needed to ap­prove the draft.

A con­sti­tu­tion was sup­posed to have been writ­ten by the Con­stituent As­sem­bly that was elected in 2008 fol­low­ing the end of a 10-year Maoist in­sur­gency and the over­throw of the cen­turies-old monar­chy. But the as­sem­bly was riven by in­fight­ing and never fin­ished its work. The cur­rent as­sem­bly was cho­sen in 2013, but has faced the same prob­lem.

Since the coun­try was hit by earth­quakes in April and May that killed more than 8,700 peo­ple, both the gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion have been un­der pres­sure to re­solve the con­sti­tu­tion cri­sis.

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