Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - More than 30 thousand people attended a demonstration in Kathmandu organized by the main opposition party Nepal Congress (NC) yesterday afternoon against the proposal to extend the mandate of the Constituent Assembly (CA) charged with drawing up the country’s new Constitution for another year. The CA was originally given two years to finalise the new constitution, then the mandate was extended for another year backed by a strong political consensus. The request for an additional one-year extension is now meeting the firm opposition of the NC, whose leader Shushil Koirala made clear their "opposition to an extension of the deadlines for CA. " The present government should be dissolved and the Maoists fighters and their weapons should be fully under government control to extend the CA term". Even the leaders of other parties are opposed to any extension unless the current coalition first steps down and the Maoists fail to deliver any weapons to government forces.
The pro-monarchy party of Nepal, Rastriya Prajatantra Party is demanding fresh elections and a referendum to decide on the nation’s secularism.
Both this party and the Surya Bahadur Thapa oppose the extension of CA and request the dissolution of the government and the appointment of a government representing all political parties.
The current interim constitution gives the president a role in representing the country and gives executive power to the prime minister.
The NC has organized several mass demonstrations in the country, against the extension. Ram Chandra Poudel (pictured), another leader of the NC, yesterday told the protesters that "the Maoist [Party] should be ready to implement previous agreements and the integration of its fighting forces [within the Nepalese Army] should be completed before the end of the period of the CA. "
The current government took office with a mandate to lead the country during the transition after the fall of the monarchy and while waiting for the approval of the new Constitution. In the first elections, the Maoist Party did well. Among the coalition agreements, which allowed them to form the country's first democratic government, the Maoist party is expected to dissolve its military arm, with which it waged a war for years against the army of the king of Nepal. But this agreement has not yet been implemented.
The approval of the new Constitution will have to mediate between the very different needs. Christians and other minorities are concerned that the new constitution would eliminate the rights of minorities provided for in the Interim Constitution.
If the deadline is not extended, the CA only have time until May 28 to complete the work.