Nepal lawmakers approve new constitution

Nepal lawmakers approve new constitution

[JURIST] The new Constitution of Nepal [legislative materials, in Nepali] was approved by the Constituent Assembly of Nepal [official website] on Wednesday after years of debate. The original 2010 completion date [JURIST report] was repeatedly delayed due to international and domestic criticism for failures to protect fundamental rights. Despite continued minority protests against the final draft, the approval of the long awaited Constitution by 507 votes to 25 led to cheers and celebration [AP report] within the assembly. The Constitution will be formally promulgated by President Ram Baran Yadav on Sunday at which time Prime Minister Sushil Koirala will resign from office.

The new Constitution will replace an interim constitution in place since the end of a decade-long civil war [JURIST report] that led to the abolition of the Nepali monarchy. In May 2012 the Supreme Court of Nepal ordered [JURIST report] the government to complete the final draft of the nation’s new constitution by the following week. 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. 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. In June leaders of the four major political parties in Nepal reached an agreement [JURIST report] on key issues for the new constitution and settled on dividing the country into eight federal states.