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Assembly fails to draft constitution

New elections set for November after Constituent Assembly dissolved

Protesters in Kathmandu rally against federal states just before the deadline for a new constitution Protesters in Kathmandu rally against federal states just before the deadline for a new constitution
  • Chirendra Satyal, Kathmandu
  • Nepal
  • May 28, 2012
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Four years of debate over a new constitution ended in stalemate yesterday in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu.

The three major political parties, Maoists, Communists, and Congressionals, failed to reach an agreement on dividing the country into federal states, triggering the dismissal of the Constituent Assembly that had been tasked with drafting a new charter.

Maoist Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai called an impromptu press conference at his residence just before midnight, apologizing for the failure and also blaming "other" old-minded parties.

“It is clear in the interim constitution that we are continuing to follow that the ministerial cabinet with me as head is still in charge,” he said. The ministerial cabinet has decided to hold fresh elections for a new Constituent Assembly in November.

The 601-member Assembly was elected in April 2008 for a two-year term. The deadline for a new constitution was extended several times before the Supreme Court ruled against extending the deadline beyond May 27.

Around the assembly building in central Kathmandu, groups protesting for or against a federal system continued their rallies yesterday, carrying flags and banners, while speaking to local media on the need to “kill and cook” the assembly members for having failed to do anything for years, while enjoying state funds and privileges.

But things appeared quiet in the capital today, a national holiday, although rallies denouncing former assembly members or even the prime minister were expected to be held later.

The country has been plagued by protests over the constitution for the past month.

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