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Nepal: No agreement over new constitution

KATHMANDU (PTI): The political crisis in Nepal deepened on Friday as negotiations among the four major political parties failed to make any headway in drafting a new constitution ahead of the May 27 deadline.

Seven hour long marathon talks held at Defence Ministry office ended without any fruitful results as both the Maoists-Madhesi alliance and the Nepali Congress-CPN (UML) alliance stuck to their respective positions on state restructuring models, according to party sources.

The parties are polarised on the key contentious issue of federating the country in the new constitution.

UCPN-Maoist with the backing of the Joint Madhesi Front have proposed 10 federal states with single ethnic identity under the state restructuring while the Nepali Congress backed by CPN-UML have floated the idea of 8 federal states on the basis of multi-ethnic and multi-cultural principles, according to Sunil Manandhar, general secretary of ruling CPN-United.

The Maoists and the five party alliance of the Madhesi Front were in favour of two federal states in the Terai or southern plains and eight federal states in the hilly region while the Nepali Congress-UML alliance have proposed three federal states under the southern plains and five under hilly region.

The parties have also held several rounds of bilateral and tri-lateral talks since morning in an attempt to forge consensus on key issues of constitution drafting.

As the major parties were polarised on the issue of state restructuring the talks ended inconclusively and they have decided to sit again tomorrow, according to Nepali Congress central member Bimalendra Nidhi.

Meanwhile, President Ram Baran Yadav today met the top leaders of the major political parties including Maoist chief Prachanda, Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala and CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal.

The president inquired about the progress made so far in the constitution making process and urged the political leaders to forge consensus to avert the looming political crisis in the country, according to sources in the presidential office.

Nepali Congress and CPN-UML leaders have also demanded resignation from Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai as agreed upon during a crucial meeting of major political parties a couple of weeks ago.

If the talks failed, there is no other way than going for a fresh election for the Constituent Assembly.

During their standing committee meeting, the leaders of the UCPN-Maoist were critical regarding the Supreme Court verdict which stays the government’s move to extend the tenure of the Constituent Assembly beyond May 27 deadline.

Published Date: Friday, May 25th, 2012 | 09:43 AM

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