Nepal PM agrees to quit; Constituent Assembly's term extended

Nepal PM agrees to quit; Constituent Assembly's term extended

Nepal PM agrees to quit; Constituent Assembly's term extended

Nepal's Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal(C) and Pushpa Kamal Dahal(L) attend a session at Nepal's Constitutional Assembly in Katmandu on Saturday.AP

The deal to extend the tenure of the 601-member Constituent Assembly, which was to expire midnight last night, was struck by top leaders of UCPN-Maoist and ruling alliance partners Nepali Congress and CPN-UML.

The agreement was reached just hours before the expiry of term of the Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting a new Constitution, Nepali Congress General Secretary Bimalendra Nidhi said.

As per the deal, the Prime Minister has assured the Maoists that he will tender his resignation at an appropriate time to pave the way for formation of a government on the basis of consensus among political parties, he said.

The major parties also agreed to conclude the peace process and expedite the process of drafting a new Constitution by forging collaboration.

Nepal's ruling coalition last week introduced a bill in the Constituent Assembly to extend the term of the House by one year so that it could finish the task of framing the Constitution.

CPN-Maoists, the single largest party with 229 parliamentary seats, had refused to cooperate in extending the term of the Assembly till Prime Minister Nepal resigned.

After the deal was struck, Maoists withdrew a protest notice issued earlier in Parliament to veto the government Bill seeking extension of the Constituent Assembly by a year.

Later, Chairman of Constituent Assembly Subhash Nemwang officially declared that the eighth amendment to the interim Constitution has been endorsed after Law and Justice Minister Prem Bahadur Singh tabled the motion.

Voting was conducted to endorse the motion past midnight. Altogether 585 votes were cast out of which 580 were in favour of the motion and five against it, thereby easily getting the required two-third majority support. The Parliament was then adjourned till Monday.

"As the major parties have agreed to extend the term, we are withdrawing the protest notice" against the bill, UCPN-Maoist leader Dev Gurung said.

A national consensus is needed to draft the new Constitution and the parties have agreed to move ahead by forging consensus, Gurung said.

The term of the current Parliament, elected in 2008, was to end at midnight last night.
The Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, two largest parties in the ruling 22-party coalition, had earlier asked the Prime Minister not to resign unless the Maoists agreed to a six-point agenda, including completion of the process of integration of their combatants with security forces and the dissolution of their paramilitary wing Young Communist League.

Political tensions had been high in Nepal since a government led by the Maoists resigned last year amid a dispute with President Ram Baran Yadav over the reinstatement of former army chief Rukmangad Katawal, who was dismissed by the Prachanda-led government last May.

The Maoists were engaged in a decade-long insurgency aimed at toppling the centuries-old monarchy before agreeing to lay down arms under a 2006 peace agreement. Nepal's last King Gyanendra was ousted in 2008.

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