Nepal defers constitution-drafting until Sunday

Kathmandu, Sep 11 (IANS) Nepal’s major political parties on Friday decided to postpone for two days the process of drafting the new constitution to enable creation of a conducive atmosphere for talks with agitating political parties who are opposing the seven-province model in the proposed federal set-up.

A meeting of three major political parties — Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) or CPN-UML and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) or UCPN-M — at Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s official residence decided to postpone the statute-drafting process until Sunday morning and renewed the call for the agitating parties to come for talks.

“We have urged the agitating parties to come for talks as one of their major demands has been fulfilled,” UCPN-M vice chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha said.

Though the combined strength of the agitating Madhesis and Tharus is not significantly large in the 601-seat Constituent Assembly where the constitution-drafting process is on, these indigenous population-groups in the Nepali terai represent nearly half of the Himalayan nation’s 28 million populace.

Leaders in both the government and the opposition would hold formal and informal talks with the agitating parties within two days, Shrestha said adding that there was no other way to reach a political resolution except talks.

As the process to draft the constitution of Nepal is nearing its end, dissatisfaction over the seven-province model has ignited the southern plains of Nepal, with at least 33 people killed in violence sparked over the last one month.

To quell the protest, the Nepal government deployed the army but the agitating parties demanded a halt to the whole drafting process and recall of the army to barracks to create a conducive atmosphere for talks.

Meanwhile, Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae held talks on Friday with top leaders of Nepal’s major political parties, urging them to finalise the constitution through broader political engagement and to halt the process, if necessary.

Nepal is in the final stages of promulgating its new constitution and as per the earlier plan, its political parties had agreed to promulgate it by mid-September and through a consensus.

Efforts to make the new constitution have been on for the last eight years but they have been marred by thorny issues like federalism and a divided polity in the country.

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