Is it last time? Leaders parry the question

KATHMANDU: The bill on 11th amendment to the Interim Constitution seeking a six-month extension for the Constituent Assembly was passed at Parliament today by a comfortable two-thirds majority.

Out of 596 existing CA members, only 508 were present at today’s House session, and all save three lawmakers voted in favour of extending the CA term. The three CA members who were against the extension were from Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal.

However, political party leaders were skeptical whether the extended six months will be sufficient to draft and promulgate a new constitution. Most of the leaders brushed aside the question whether it would be the last extension.

The Supreme Court has strongly ruled that CA and political parties must be able to accomplish the task of drafting the constitution within the extended period, but the parties have not mentioned the apex court verdict in their six-point deal they signed today.

Maoist and Nepali Congress leaders told reporters that they would make ‘maximum efforts’ to conclude the constitution-drafting process within the extended period. CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal, however, said CA ‘will not die without promulgating the constitution’, whereas Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Republic Chairman Jay Prakash Prasad Gupta said, “Right now, it cannot be said whether it is the last extension.”

After the CA term was extended by six months, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai said, “Writing a new constitution through CA is the biggest task that political parties have at hand. We have extended the CA term to make a last effort to accomplish the task.” He also avoided to answer whether it will be the last extension.Prakash Acharya from The Himalayan

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