The Legislature-Parliament avatar of the Constituent Assembly today endorsed the bill seeking to extend the term of the CA by six more months. This is the fourth extension of the CA term. Like it was in August when the CA was extended for three months, this time too there was not much drama (inside the CA of haggling by the politicians and outside the CA hall of protesters shouting against the extension). But the atmosphere was entirely different back in May when the CA was extended for three months amidst chaos.
Of the 508 lawmakers present at the House session, 505 voted in favour of the bill seeking amendment to the Interim Constitution that would pave way for extending the CA term, while three lawmakers voted against the bill. The government on Thursday tabled a bill on the 11th amendment to the Interim Constitution proposing a six-month extension beyond the November 30 deadline.
The CA, which was elected in April 2008 with a two-year term to write a constitution and take the peace process to a logical conclusion, has already been extended three times before this. None of the works have been finished till now.
Against the backdrop of the Supreme Court allowing a final six-month extension of the Constituent Assembly (CA), the Parliament on Tuesday extended the tenure of the CA for six more months beyond its current November 30 deadline.
Also on Tuesday, political parties reiterated their commitment to complete the constitution drafting process within the extended deadline, while offering a vague understanding among them to form a national consensus government without a fixed timetable.
A session of the parliament endorsed the government’s bill seeking the term extension by more than a two-thirds majority. Of the 508 lawmakers who attended the session, 505 voted in favour of the extension while three lawmakers from the RPP-Nepal voted against it.
Influential leaders, including former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, Minister for Industry Anil Jha, Minister for Irrigation Mahendra Yadav and NC leader Gagan Thapa, could not participate in the voting process as they did not reach the meeting hall on time. Top leaders have committed that they would complete the constitution making process within the new deadline set by the fourth extension of the CA.
The assembly witnessed a one-year and two three-month extensions after it failed to promulgate the constitution within its original two-year deadline.
“This is certainly the last extension. We have a compulsion to meet the deadline,” said UML leader Nepal. “We can complete the work if all the parties demonstrate seriousness.” Nepal’s opinion was supported by Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Loktantrik) Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachhadar.
The Nepali Congress is still silent on the Supreme Court verdict, while Maoist and UML leaders are preparing to register their dissenting views on the verdict in Wednesday’s House session. The dissatisfied lawmakers argue that the judiciary sought to encroach upon parliamentary prerogatives by putting a cap on the term extension.
Ahead of the House session, leaders from three major parties and the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) signed a six-point agreement committing to implement the seven-point deal signed on November 1. They pledged to form a national consensus government ‘soon,’ but offered no concrete timeline.
EU welcomes move
The European Union Mission in Kathmandu, including Norway and Switzerland, on Tuesday welcomed the new CA term extension. “The agreement to extend the term of the Constituent Assembly provides the political parties in Nepal with a renewed opportunity to promulgate a new democratic and inclusive Constitution within the next six months,” a joint press statement said.
The mission said it was satisfied with the progress made by the parties so far. It also expressed hope that the peace and constitution writing processes move in the right direction. “The peace process is moving forward, thanks to dialogue and action by the political parties to address long-outstanding issues,” the statement said.
It also urged the government to embrace fundamental human rights and standards of international laws while forming the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.