Nepal leaders reach agreement for new constitution

Nepal leaders reach agreement for new constitution

[JURIST] Leaders of the four major political parties in Nepal reached an agreement Monday on key issues for a new constitution, dividing the country into eight federal states. An assembly [AP report] elected in 2008 was tasked with completing the new constitution by 2010, but never completed a draft due to fighting within the nation. The boundaries for the states will be established by a federal commission and will be named by elected assemblies in each state. The new constitution is scheduled to take effect in July, at which time Prime Minister Sushil Koirala will resign from office. When officials met in January to draft the constitution, the meeting ended in violence [JURIST report], but officials have stated that the April earthquake, which killed more than 8,700 people, drove the leaders to work together and resolve the disputed issues. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the agreement [press release] Tuesday, calling it “a major milestone in the country’s democratic development.”

Officials from the Nepal Constituent Assembly pledged [JURIST report] in 2008 that they would finish drafting the country’s new constitution within 18 months, but that term was later extended multiple times. In May 2012 the Supreme Court of Nepal [official website, in Nepali] ordered the government to complete the final draft of the nation’s new constitution by the following week [JURIST report]. When that deadline was not met, then-prime minister Baburam Bhattarai announced [JURIST report] the 2008 parliament would be dissolved and new elections would be held later that year. In January 2014 the Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that the selection of a new president was not an immediate need and should be postponed until the adoption of a new constitution.