Nepal averts crisis by hair’s breadth

Kathmandu, May 29 (IANS) The nascent republic of Nepal averted an unprecedented constitutional crisis by a hair’s breadth Friday midnight after the opposition Maoist party agreed to bail the coalition government out and extend the term of the interim parliament by a year.

In return, embattled Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal is expected to step down, though it was not immediately clear when.

Only 17 minutes before midnight, Nepal’s endangered parliament, that was to have convened at 8 a.m., sat to decide the fate of the country.

After nearly 15 hours of last-minute negotiations, the opposition Maoist party decided to withdraw its objection to the government’s proposal to extend the term of interim parliament and the proposal was passed unanimously.

AS per a peace agreement, Nepal was to have promulgated a new constitution by Friday midnight. However, the statute could not be unveiled due to protracted disputes between the ruling parties and the Maoists for over a year.

The impasse triggered fears that in the absence of a new constitution, parliament would be dissolved automatically at Friday midnight along with the government, unleashing an unprecedented crisis and vacuum.

But now, the house has been given a new lease of life for a year. The new constitution will have to be tabled within that.