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Nepal crisis

PN went to press just after the six-year Nepali peace process was meant to have been finally resolved. It wasn’t.

As widely predicted, Nepali political parties failed to meet the 27 May deadline for agreeing a new constitution. The original deadline set in the interim constitution of 2007 was 28 May 2010 – there have been four extensions, even though the first was judged unconstitutional by the supreme court. The supreme court ruled just before the deadline that extending the life of the constituent assembly beyond 27 May would be illegal.

The main parties are divided on the number, size and borders of the federal states to be created.

The central question is whether state boundaries are to be based on ethnicity. During May, demonstrators from historically-marginalised groups paralysed much of the country with demands for either single- or multi-ethnic federal states.

It is unclear how these conflicting demands can or will be satisfied.

The International Crisis Group has noted the narrowing of the peace process: ‘The commitment to democratise the Nepal Army has already been dropped. The commission on land reform is a dead-end. The issue of justice for war-era abuses continues to be defined by the lack of incentive for all actors to deal with it.’ All of these were commitments laid down in the comprehensive peace accord of 2006 which ended the civil war.