05/30/2011, 00.00
NEPAL
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Parties reach deal to save Nepal’s peace process

by Kalpit Parajuli
A first draft of the new constitution and guidelines to reintegrate Maoist fighters should be ready in three-month time. However, there are many questions about how prepared the parties are to work together. The deal for example lacks binding principles and a detailed agenda.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – After days of tensions and protests, Nepal’s political parties have agreed to extend the mandate of the constituent assembly by another three months after its original date expired on Saturday. However, doubts subsist as to how much they can work together since they have been at loggerheads after the Hindu monarchy was toppled in 2006 at the end of a ten-year civil war. Hindu parties greeted the extension with protests, demanding instead fresh elections and a change in leadership.   

The leaders of the country’s three main political parties, the Nepali Congress, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists and the Communist Party of Nepal, inked the deal on yesterday.

It calls for a first draft of the new constitution to be ready three months from now as well as guidelines for the reintegration into society of 19,000 Maoist fighters. The latter are currently housed in training camps. The accord would also oversee the rebels’ disarmament and their full reintegration into society by September.

Nepali Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal announced that he would step down to facilitate the process, and that a new governmental of national consensus would be set up. The needs of the country’s ethnic and religious minorities would also be taken into account.

However, the agreement does not convince everyone. Human rights activist Subodh Raj Pyakurel notes, “No leader so far has presented a binding programme for the three-month period.” What is more, Khanal has not officially resigned yet; his announcement is just a promise.

After centuries of monarchical rule and decades of unrest and civil war, the United Nations and the caretaker government set up when the Nepali republic was founded in 2006 agreed to a peace process that entailed the disarmament of Maoist fighters and the drafting of a new constitution.

Since then, in fighting among former Maoist rebels and existing political parties have led to a deadlock.

Since 2008, strikes and demonstrations have been a daily occurrence, causing havoc to the country’s manufacturing and tourist sectors, as well as discouraging foreign investments.

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