With merely a week to go before the tenure of the Constituent Assembly (CA) expires, Nepal’s caretaker Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal has proposed amending the interim constitution of Nepal for the 10th time and extending the legislative body’s term by another three months.
The CA’s term is due to expire on Aug 31. Formed in 2008, it is tasked with writing a new constitution. Due to persistent differences among the major political parties, the body’s twin tasks–completion of the peace process and drafting a constitution drafting–are still elusive.
The Council of Ministers on Tuesday proposed an amendment to the Interim Constitution that would allow the CA’s term to be extended. Minutes later, the proposed amendment was registered at the Parliament Secretariat.
The cabinet endorsed Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal’s proposal for the extension. However, a major coalition party, UCPN-Maoist, boycotted the meeting of the Cabinet, which ignored a proposal by the Maoists to extend the CA’s term by six months.
“We refused to discuss after the PM-proposed three months extension, breaching an understanding to extend the CA term by six months in the meeting of the ruling parties this morning,” Health Minister Lokendra Bista, a Maoist minister said as members of his party emerged from the meeting.
Bista also accused the prime minister of changing his proposal under pressure from United Marxist-Leninist (UML) party leaders despite their agreement to float the proposal for a six-month extension at a 10-party meeting Tuesday morning.