Constitutional Assambly extends for three months

The political parties struck a five-point deal, paving the way for a three-month extension of the Constituent Assembly.

According to the pact signed by top three leaders of the three major parties the Constituent Assembly term will be extended by three months; fundamentals of the peace process will be readied within three months; the first draft of the new constitution will be prepared within three months; the Prime Minister will quit to pave the way for formation of a national consensus government; and the Nepal Army will be developed as an inclusive institution by implementing the past agreements signed with Madhesi Morcha. However, it wasn’t clear when the Prime Minister’s resignation would come.

Earlier before the signing of the agreement, Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) kept harping on PM Khanal’s immediate resignation.

The government’s plan to forge consensus by Saturday midnight failed after SLMM wanted to trade off the extension with Khanal’s immediate step-down. The attempt by the Big Three to forge consensus failed after the Maoists rejected the proposal of NC and a section of ruling CPN-UML for CA extension in two phases.

The House session scheduled for 8 am Saturday was delayed by over 15 hours after the parties couldn’t forge consensus on tenure extension. Speaker Subas Nembang convened the House at 11:14 pm amid persisting differences between the ruling coalition and NC over whether the CA should have a phase-wise or straight six-month extension.

Minister for Law and Justice Prabhu Shah tabled the ninth Interim Constitution amendment bill proposing CA’s tenure extension for a year to avert a constitutional crisis that would result in the event of failure to begin the process of endorsing the bill by Saturday midnight. The note of disapproval registered against tenure extension by RPP-Nepal was rejected by more than a two-thirds majority before the bill was tabled. The next sitting conducted on Sunday morning allowed the lawmakers 25 minutes to register amendment proposals on the bill.

The three major parties were close to extending the term of the CA for six months through a deal including timebound commitment to conclude the peace and constitution making process during intra party discussions held Saturday afternoon. They had agreed that the agreement would be kept in the annexure of the constitution through the House session before passing the term extension bill.

The plan fell through after former Prime Minister and senior UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal backed NC’s proposal and urged the Maoist leadership to agree on CA extension in two phases. He proposed that the first 45-day extension should complete the peace process and the ensuing six months be utilised to conclude the constitution drafting.

Rejecting the proposal outright, Maoists proposed a package deal including formation of a national unity government and timebound commitment for completing the peace process as well as constitution drafting within six months.

During discussions with NC, UML and Madhes based parties’ leaders, the Maoists had committed that they were ready to end the dual security arrangement for their party leaders immediately and lock the weapons used by the body guards in the containers, in a “symbolic” move to suggest that the arms were under the Special Committee. They had promised to give it in writing that the weapons storage containers kept at the seven main cantonment sites belonged to the Special Committee.

The Maoists had also pledged to finalise the regrouping procedure within June 4, complete the regrouping process by July 5 and complete integration and rehabilitation by September. They had proposed that the first draft of the constitution would be prepared within one month of the CA extension.

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