05/25/2012, 00.00
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Dispute between Maoists and Supreme Court leaves Nepal without Constitution

by Kalpit Parajuli
The judges reject the three-month extension proposed by the Maoists. The deadlines for submitting the Constitution expire in two days, but the text is not yet ready. The country could plunge into chaos. Thousands protest in Kathmandu.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Nepal will not have a constitution. Today the Supreme Court rejected a Maoist government proposal to extend the deadline of the Constituent Assembly by three months. And this will force politicians to submit the document by May 27, without further delay. However, experts believe the text is still incomplete and there is no time to complete it within the set deadlines. Many political groups are contemplating alternative to the current Constituent Assembly elected in 2008.

Devendra Poudel, Chief of Cabinet of the Prime Minister Bhattarai, told AsiaNews that the government respects the verdict of the Court, but at the same time admits that there is no material possibility to promulgate the constitution on time. There are still too many outstanding issues that can only be resolved with the participation of all political forces in the country. "According to Poudel, the Supreme Court has gone beyond its jurisdiction." We hope - he said - that the political movements and representatives of the minorities that populate the country will accept negotiation. Unfortunately now there is no alternative. "

For days, thousands of people have held a sit in at Durbarmarg (Kathmandu) in front of the royal palace, to protest against the inertia of political parties to deliver the constitution on time. Many are calling for the resignation of Maoist Prime Minister Bhattarai. The event was organized by business representatives, schools, media and civil society.

The current constitutional assembly dominated by the Maoist party was elected in 2008, two years after the civil war ended between the Maoists and Hindu monarchy. Its term would have expired in 2010 but was postponed four times because of internal disagreements in parliament, before the disarmament of Maoist guerrillas and now the sort order of the State. Various groups have been protesting and lobbying for or against federalism: the political parties are divided on the model and the number of federal states.

In Nepal, there are 103 castes and 60 ethnic groups. For several months the tribal minorities have been blocking the country with strikes and demonstrations to put pressure on the Constituent Assembly to protect their rights and promote the federal system. These protests have created tensions between the majority Hindus and ethnic and religious minorities, with hundreds of casualties and arrests, particularly in the Far Western Region and the Terai (southern Nepal), where ethnic and tribal groups are numerous, but also poor.

The Congress Party, the main opposition party, accused the Maoists of fomenting the protests for fear of losing power, obtained by winning the elections for the Constituent Assembly in 2008. The secret support of the Maoists cadres in each ethnic group would push minorities to demand a federal state according to ethnic groups. The confusion in the federal system is such that in some groups, the tribes have come into conflict with each other, demanding the partition of autonomous regions, such as the Far Western Region, already established on the basis of ethnicity.

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