Nepal on brink of political chaos
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Nepal is facing political crisis as its opposing leaders struggle to reach an agreement for an extension of the current parliamentary term, which expires at midnight on Friday. The prospect that the country will be left without a functioning legislature looks increasingly likely, after an emergency meeting called on Thursday failed to find a breakthrough.
Nepal’s government is seeking a one-year extension to the parliament’s term in order to give lawmakers more time to finalise a new constitution.
But the opposition Maoist party, which holds the most seats in the Nepali parliament, or Constituent Assembly (CA), refuses to back the extension unless the current regime resigns and allows the Maoists to form a new coalition government.
The ruling Communist Party of Nepal (UML) and Nepali Congress say they will not step down.
Parliament will vote on the extension proposal, as well as the Maoists' bill vetoing it, on Friday.
The government needs a two-thirds majority to pass the extension, a result it cannot secure without the support of the Maoists, who hold nearly 40 per cent of the seats.
If the parties fail to reach a consensus, parliament as well as all laws and functions of state will dissolve from midnight, potentially leaving President Ram Baran Yadav as the facto executive.
The United Nations has urged all sides to “regain their unity of purpose” in the interests of Nepal.
“The Constituent Assembly and its progress to date toward the adoption of Nepal’s new constitution represent a significant and hard-won achievement of the peace process,” said a statement from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Nepal’s current parliament was elected in 2008 with the mandate to write a new permanent constitution to replace the interim constitution in place since the country changed from a monarchy to a republic in 2007.
With the parties divided on multiple issues including federal government, judicial independence and the inclusion of former Maoist fighters in the ruling administration, the CA has so far failed to agree on the new draft.
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