Nepal constitution drafting extended as premier promises to quit
Nepalese politicians on Saturday gave themselves another year to draft a new republican constitution after a deal that called on the prime minister to resign, DPA reported.
The extension of the term of the constituent assembly, which was elected two years ago specifically to draw up a new constitution, came after marathon talks on Friday to save the country from an impending political crisis.
The original deadline for the assembly to promulgate the new constitution ended at midnight Friday.
Politicians from the three main parties, the Maoists, Nepali Congress and the moderate Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist Leninist, agreed to extend the term under a deal that would see the prime minister resign "without delay" to pave the way for the formation of a national government including the Maoists.
"Because the process to write the new constitution has not been completed, we have agreed to extend the term of the constituent assembly by one year," an agreement between the three parties said.
"Based on the agreement to fulfil responsibilities, we are ready to form a national consensus government and for that, the prime minister of the incumbent government is ready to resign without delay."
The Maoists had been demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal as a condition for an extension of the term of the constituent assembly.
Nepal had said he was ready to resign, but would not do so ahead of the extension or under pressure from the Maoists.
The prime minister also wants agreement on key issues, including integration of the former Maoist rebel combatants into the security forces, resolved before his resignation.
It remains unclear when he will resign and the agreement signed by the three parties does not have a specific time frame for him to do so.
Politicians from the Nepali Congress said it would happen over the course of the week after talks with the Maoists on key issues.
"Talks on the formation of a national government will only begin after agreement with the Maoists on all important issues," Nepali Congress spokesman Arjun Narsingh KC said. "If there is agreement, the prime minister could resign within a week."
Politicians cutting across political lines hailed the extension, saying it was a start of consensus-based politics.
"Today's vote has sent a message that political parties are now embarking on a path of consensus which would guarantee the new constitution," Maoist second-in-command Babu Ram Bhattarai said.