U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged Nepal's political parties and other groups engaged in drafting a new Constitution for the Himalayan nation to conclude the process successfully as soon as possible, cautioning that the term of the country's Constituent Assembly could end before the adoption of a new Constitution.
"The Secretary-General is concerned about the prospect of the term of the Constituent Assembly expiring without the adoption of a Constitution that meets the expectations and aspirations of the people of Nepal," the U.N. chief's spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday.
Ban also appealed to all parties to remain within the framework of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Constituent Assembly, and urged all concerned parties to remain calm and exercise restraint.
Ban's statement came days after main political parties in Nepal reached an agreement last week on the major contentious issues related to the future of state structure and the model of the new Constitution. Incidentally, the deadline set for drafting the Constitution expires on May 27.
Nepal has been plagued by political disputes ever since the civil war between government forces and Maoist rebels formally ended in 2007, and its monarchy abolished a year later. Several previous deadlines set for drafting a new Constitution have been missed.
The country's Constituent Assembly is tasked with the responsibility of drafting a new Constitution. Its term was extended by six months in late November2011, but that extension is due to expire on May 27.
Nepal's fragile peace process began after the Maoists ended their armed revolt and entered mainstream politics. The armed revolt, which claimed 13,000 lives, was ended as per a peace deal reached between the government and the Maoists.
Although a coalition government emerged from the April 2008 elections with the Maoists coming up as the single largest party in the 601-member Constituent Assembly, the country's political parties failed to complete the peace process as well as reach an agreement on a new Constitution.
The Maoists, who lacked the required majority to form a government on their own, briefly led a coalition government after the elections, but their leader Prachanda resigned as Prime Minister less than a year later over a row with the then Army chief.
The current coalition government is headed by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai of the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). He is the country's fourth Premier in as many years, as well as the second most senior leader of the former Communist rebels.
Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal, both from the Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), had briefly served as Prime Ministers after the resignation of Prachanda in May 2009.
by RTT Staff Writer
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