Nepal crisis

News in Brief by PN

Nepal has missed another crucial deadline. Since the civil war ended in 2006, the Himalayan republic has managed to keep its peace process staggering along, chasing a new federal constitution as the bucket of gold at the end of the rainbow, always just out of reach.

The interim constitution adopted in 2007 was meant to be replaced by a proper new constitution in May 2010. The elected constituent assembly extended the period to May 2011. Despite a supreme court ruling that such extensions were illegal (no power of extension had been written into any of the agreements), the constituent assembly kept extending the life of the interim constitution by a few months at a time.

New elections were held in November 2013 and Nepal’s political leaders promised to draft a new constitution within a year – a date that ended up being
22 January 2015.

Instead of agreeing a constitution by midnight on that date, Nepal’s parliamentarians ended up having a brawl, throwing shoes and microphones, after the Maoist-led opposition stormed the constituent assembly chamber to prevent a vote being taken. (Chairs were thrown in an earlier scuffle.) Outside, the opposition mounted a general strike, and burned vehicles.

The Maoists, and many minority ethnic groups, want the number, names and boundaries of the provinces in a new (federal) state to be agreed by consensus, as originally planned.

The larger parties, who have the two-thirds of votes in the constituent assembly needed to pass the new constitution, wanted to stick to the deadline and vote in their less-ethnically-based proposals for a unitary state.

Topics: Nepal