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Nepal interim constitution panel submits draft

[JURIST] Nepal's Interim Constitution Drafting Committee (ICDC) on Friday presented a draft constitution [PDF text, in Nepali] to government officials and Maoist rebel representatives participating in the negotiations. The interim draft encompassing 172 articles is designed to replace the current constitution [text] until a new representative body is elected and drafts a permanent constitution. The six-person ICDC was formed in July under an agreement [text; JURIST report] between the interim civilian government and Maoist rebels. The draft specifies that "sovereign rights and executive powers are vested in the people" and outlines procedures for electing the new representative body to draft a permanent constitution. A three-member Constituent Assembly Court, part of the current Supreme Court of Nepal [official website], is established to manage the elections and resolve disputes that may occur during elections, and a range of fundamental political and social rights have been specified for explicit protection.

Maoist representatives have expressed reservations [JURIST report] that the draft interim constitution does not adequately address the key issue of whether the new government should retain elements of the monarchical system brought into precipitous disrepute after King Gyanendra [official profile] took over direct rule of the country in early 2005 and held it for over a year until mass pro-democracy demonstrations [JURIST news archive] forced him to return power to a civilian government. The ICDC has recommended a referendum be held on the monarchy's fate, but Nepalese Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula said Friday that negotiations will continue on that issue. The draft interim constitution must now be ratified. AFP has more. eKantipur.com has local coverage.

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