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Countdown for new constitution

Parliamentarians 'think legislature and government should be above the law'

Countdown for new constitution
Nepal supreme court building
Chirendra Satyal, Kathmandu

March 29, 2012

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The Supreme Court yesterday ruled to uphold an earlier judgment that the constituent assembly (CA) must complete a draft constitution with no further delays. The judgment, which requires a draft constitution to be completed by May 27, is the first rejection of a petition to delay by the court. Rabindra Khanal, a political analyst, said meeting the deadline would likely be difficult and would produce an anemic document. “As they have no choice, they will probably come up with a skeletal draft of the new constitution,” he said, adding that the contentious issue of federalism would likely be ignored altogether. “This is the most critical constitutional issue – on how to restructure Nepal and give more recognition to the country’s various ethnic groups, castes and linguistic groups, as well as the decentralization of the government,” he said Khanal said that should the CA fail to produce a draft, any further extention of their mandate would be unlawful and that “new polls would be the only solution.” Bishop Anthony Sharma said the ruling could provoke further political division. “Most parliamentarians think that the legislature and government should be above the supreme court. They are not happy with the court ruling but know they had better abide by it.” The CA was elected in 2008 and tasked with drafting a new constitution, though the body has petitioned for four previous extensions, the latest of which was in November last year. Pro-Hindu groups such as the Nepal Prajatantra Party who want the country to revert from a secular to a Hindu state have already demanded a nationwide referendum and new elections.
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