Wed, Jun 10, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Nepal strikes deal on provinces

POST-QUAKE ACTION:A yet-to-be established panel would have six months to draw up internal borders and submit a proposal for approval by the parliament

AFP, KATHMANDU

Nepal’s rival political parties have struck a historic deal on a new constitution that divides the nation into eight provinces, ending years of deadlock, a minister said yesterday.

The deal comes weeks after two earthquakes killed thousands and devastated the nation, adding to the pressure on politicians to end the long-running stalemate.

Legislators have missed a series of deadlines to draft a new national charter following a decade-long Maoist insurgency that left an estimated 16,000 people dead and brought down the Nepalese monarchy in 2008.

Nepalese Minister of Communications Minendra Rijal said the agreement was a “major breakthrough.”

He said the twin disasters had “motivated us to work together... There is a will to get this done.”

The deal would see the creation of eight provinces, although it leaves the crucial issue of their borders unresolved.

The opposition Maoists want new provinces to be created along lines that could favor historically marginalized communities, but other parties say this would be divisive and a threat to national unity.

The agreement, which was concluded around midnight on Monday, is to be included in a draft charter that must be approved by a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

Maoist spokesman Dinanath Sharma said the draft constitution would be ready next month.

Under the deal, Nepal would continue with its current system of governance, which includes an executive prime minister and ceremonial president.

A federal commission is to be established and get six months to draw up internal borders and submit a proposal for approval in the Parliament of Nepal.

Newspaper editor Guna Raj Luitel said the April 25 earthquake appeared to have added impetus to the negotiation process.

“Everyone was fed up with the parties, people thought the constitution will never come because they could not agree on anything,” Nagarik daily editor-in-chief Luitel said.

“After the first quake, things changed, parties seem to have realized that they need to work together to rebuild the country,” he said.

More than 8,700 people died in the quakes that hit Nepal on April 25 and May 12, destroying nearly half a million houses and leaving thousands without shelter.

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