KATHMANDU: The government today registered a bill at the Parliament Secretariat seeking to amend the constitution for a three-month extension of the Constituent Assembly term, which is set to expire on May 27.
The government moved forward with the bill brushing aside reservations expressed by two major parties — Nepali Congress and CPN-UML — and ignoring a Supreme Court order.
“The peace process has reached its conclusion and most of disputed issues related to the new constitution have been settled. So, three more months are required for CA to complete the remaining tasks,” the bill says in justification for the call for term extension.
An official at the Ministry of Law and Justice registered the bill on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Law and Justice Krishna Prasad Sitaula. If Parliament passes the bill, which is very likely, it will be the fifth extension of the CA, even though it was originally elected for a two-year term. The bill seeks the amendment to Article 64 of the Interim Constitution, which, after endorsement, will read: “The term of the Constituent Assembly will be of four years and three months...”
NC and UML, however, were in a dither whether to support the government move or not, as both the parties are partners in the coalition, which is said to be a unity government formed to carry on till a constitution is delivered.
After a meeting of the four major political forces — the Unified CPN-Maoist, NC, UML and United Democratic Madhesi Front — UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal said, “We did not agree on extending the CA term. Consensus is impossible unless the UCPN-M shuns its habit of provoking several groups to resort to strikes, even when it is in the government.”
NC leader Bimalendra Nidhi said, “Considering the apex court verdict, Congress is against the term extension.”
Following the four forces’ meeting, the Problem Resolution Sub Committee instructed the CA Secretariat to submit the questionnaire on 117 disputed issues to the sub-committee at tomorrow’s meeting, according to its member Laxman Lal Karna. “Voting and attempts to forge consensus will go simultaneously from tomorrow,” said Karna.