Nepalese PM scrambles to form a new government amid constitutional crisis | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 04.05.2012
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Nepalese PM scrambles to form a new government amid constitutional crisis

Nepal has plunged deeper into political crisis as Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai's cabinet has resigned to make way for the new government, which will be tasked with penning the much-delayed constitution.

On Friday, Nepal's political parties reached an agreement to form a new coalition government, whose task will be to draft a new constitution for Nepal by May 27.

A new constitution is considered a key part of the peace process in Nepal which took off in 2006 after the monarchy was abolished and Nepal's Maoists gave up their armed revolt to join the political process.

Nepal's Constituent Assembly was elected in 2008 with a mandate to draft a constitution for ‘the new Nepal' in two years. Nepal's Supreme Court has repeatedly extended the tenure of the Constituent Assembly after it failed on more than one occasion to formulate a constitution. However, this time, says the apex court, the deadline will not be renewed.

According to various media reports, Ram Rijan Yadav, Prime Minister Bhattarai's press adviser, said on Friday the new government would include members of all major political parties.

"Once the constitution process is complete, the prime minister will step down and hand over power," Yadav said.

May 27 deadline

A Nepali policeman stands guard against the flag of the Communist party of Nepal (Maoist)

Maoist insurgents gave up their armed struggle in 2006

But Nepalese observers are pessimistic about the whole exercise and say it is unlikely that the new coalition will be able to draft the constitution by May 27.

Kathmandu-based Nepalese journalist Yuvaraj Ghimire told DW that the only way out of this constitutional crisis was an "imposed constitution."

"During the past four years, the Nepalese people have never been involved in the constitution-making process,” said Ghimire, adding that the people's demands had not yet been addressed. “Political parties are divided on various issues such as what kind of government system Nepal will have; will the president be directly elected; and will the prime minster be elected by parliament or through the direct vote of the people?" said Ghimire.

Nepalese political analysts are of the opinion that political parties in Nepal only want to prolong their stay in power without constitutional accountability. They say people's frustration is growing in Nepal due to this protracted constitutional dilemma.

Dream of a republic

A Nepalese girl with the words 'Nepal Republic' painted on her face during a rally in Kathmandu

Nepalese people's hopes in their elected representatives have not yet been fulfilled

Dr. KB Rokaya, member of Nepal's National Human Rights Commission, told DW that the people of Nepal wanted a constitution which guaranteed a secular republic.

"There are three major demands of the Nepalese people: Nepal should be a republic; it should be declared a secular state; and its constitution should assure a federal system of government," said Dr. Rokaya, who believed the main disagreement between the political parties was over the federal system of government.

Dr. Rokaya further said that his commission had recommended that Nepal should have a "human rights-friendly" constitution in which the rights of women, children, workers and minorities were assured. He said though the overall situation of human rights had improved in Nepal, a lot more still needed to be done.

Ghimire said he feared the possibility of an outbreak of anarchy in Nepal if the peace process failed; but he did not expect Maoists to take up arms again.

Author: Shamil Shams
Editor: Sarah Berning

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