Nepal: As constitution deadline passes, Ban urges consensus on way forward

Protestors in Kathmandu gather ahead of deadline for lawmakers to agree on a new draft constitution. Photo: N. Newar/IRIN

29 May 2012 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced disappointment that Nepal's Constituent Assembly has expired without the adoption of a long-awaited constitution, and called on all parties to work together in the national interest to ensure that the achievements of the past several years are not lost.

“The United Nations, which has closely supported the peace-making and reform process in Nepal over many years, shares the deep regret felt by the Nepali people at this time,” Mr. Ban's spokesperson said in a statement issued overnight.

The Constituent Assembly was tasked with drafting a new constitution for the South Asian nation, which abolished its monarchy following the civil war between Government forces and Maoists that formally ended in 2007.

The process of constitution-making, which began in 2008, had produced important agreements on almost all aspects of a new constitution except state restructuring (federalism). However, several deadlines to draft a new constitution have been missed, and the term of the Assembly expired on Sunday night.

“The work of constitution-making should resume without delay, building on what has so far been achieved, and the appropriate legitimate and representative mechanism for this should be found through consensus,” said the statement. “These decisions will require flexibility, creativity, and above all the willingness to set aside lesser differences in the national interest.”

Nepal has entered an “uncertain constitutional and political period,” the statement noted, adding that the Government and the political leaders, as well as leaders of various communities, need to demonstrate the courage and wisdom to come together to address the challenges the nation faces.

“As an immediate priority, a political consensus on the way forward is essential to ensure stability and continuity,” Mr. Ban's spokesperson added.


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