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Nepal government makes deal with Maoist rebels on drafting interim constitution
Nepal government makes deal with Maoist rebels on drafting interim constitution

[JURIST] Nepal's government and the Maoist rebels on Friday agreed to draft an interim constitution within 15 days and dissolve the parliament reinstated by the popular people's uprising [JURIST news archive] in April this year. Surprisingly, the Maoists [BBC backgrounder], who have been waging a people's war over a decade, also agreed to go for a competitive multiparty democracy and respect universal fundamental rights, including press freedom and rule of law. An eight-point agreement [text] was hammered out at the end of a day-long high-level peace summit between the seven-party alliance government and the Maoists Friday in capital Kathmandu. Earlier in the morning, the rebel leaders arrived in the capital in a helicopter for the talks.

A six-member team led by former Supreme Court Justice Laxman Prasad Aryal has been formed to draft the proposed interim constitution [current text]. Analysts said the agreement has paved the way to ending the decade-old Maoist insurgency that has already claimed over 13,000 lives. The Maoists began the "war" in February 1996 to establish a communist republic in the Himalayan Kingdom.

The government and the Maoists also agreed to extend the current ceasefire into a permanent peace so as to end the ongoing insurgency. In addition, the government and the rebels also agreed to invite the United Nations to monitor and manage the arms of the government army and the rebels in an effort to ensure free and fair elections of the proposed constituent assembly [JURIST report]. The elections are expected to be held before April 2007.

The rebels and the seven-party alliance joined hands in November last year to fight together against King Gyanendra's direct rule. King Gyanendra [official profile; BBC profile] ruled the country directly for nearly 15 months after he seized power [JURIST report] in a bloodless coup on February 1, 2005. They jointly launched the popular April uprising, forcing the king to give up his powers and reinstate the parliament dissolved in 2002. The parliament and post-uprising government have already stripped Gyanendra of his wide-ranging political powers [JURIST report]. The 58-year old monarch now only has a ceremonial role.

Kiran Chapagain is a special correspondent for JURIST writing from Nepal. He is an Assistant Senior Reporter for the Kathmandu Post.