Nepal lawmakers clash over new constitution

Nepal lawmakers clash over new constitution

[JURIST] A Nepalese parliamentary meeting on Tuesday resulted in violence and arrests after the Maoist opposition sought to extend the deadline for the drafting of the new constitution. An original deadline for completion of the constitution had been set for January 22, a date to which the ruling parliamentary majority sought to adhere. The Maoist lawmakers, however, argued that deliberations should continue until agreement is reached, regardless of deadline, and accused [BBC report] their majoritarian colleagues of attempting to push through Maoist proposals without consensus. This difference in views led the Maoist representatives to begin a melee, which involved chair-throwing and an attack on the speaker, while calling for a national general strike to protest the government’s decision. In support of the Maoist opposition, protesters took to the streets and set fire to buses and taxis, resulting in the arrest of more than 50 people. Due to the chaos parliamentary proceedings have been adjourned until Wednesday.

Nepal has a long history of discord with Maoist factions which stem from their actions during the country’s civil war [Insight on Conflict backgrounder]. However, there have been efforts on the part of the Nepalese government to reconcile with the Maoists despite their checkered history. In late April the government passed legislation [JURIST report] that could grant amnesty to former Maoist rebels for their actions during the civil war. The legislation passed despite opposition from various human rights groups and the Nepalese Supreme Court [JURIST reports] itself.