The crisis-ridden Maoist-led Nepal government today announced fresh Constituent Assembly elections in April or May next year, in an attempt to break the political deadlock plaguing the country since last year.
Fresh elections had originally been planned for November 22, after the 601-member Constituent Assembly was dissolved by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on May 27, but due to lack of consensus the plan was dropped.
Also today Prime Minister Bhattarai accompanied by Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun, reached Rastrapati Bhawan and submitted a budget ordinance of Rs 300.64 billion, for the remaining eight-month period of the current fiscal year, to President Ram Baran Yadav for approval, according to cabinet sources.
The Prime Minister tentatively proposed to conduct elections to the Constituent Assembly in the month of Baisakh as per Hindu calendar which lies in April–May.
A Cabinet meeting held today took the decision to hold fresh elections, Nepal News reported.
The cabinet has decided to conduct fresh elections in April, 2013, due to the government's inability to conduct polls to the Constituent Assembly on pre-scheduled date of November 22, President of Sadbhavana Party and Health Minister Rajendra Mahato said.
However, the exact date of the election is yet to be finalised, he added.
The cabinet meeting also decided to extend the tenure of the Special Committee for Supervision, Integration and Rehabilitation of former Maoist combatants by one month. Its tenure expires on November 14.
The new election date has been proposed by the caretaker government at a time when the main opposition parties, including Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, have been pressing for Prime Minister Bhattarai to step down to pave way for forming a national consensus government prior to holding the fresh elections.
The opposition parties have also asked the President not to endorse the budget ordinance forwarded by the caretaker government, saying that the incumbent government has no authority to announce the budget.
Nepal in 2008 elected the Constituent Assembly that was tasked with the job of drafting a constitution for the post- monarchy country, and completing the peace process. However, severe ideological and political disagreements prevented parties from achieving a constitution.
Nepal plunged into deeper political crisis after the dissolution of Constituent Assembly on May 27 without the promulgation of the constitution due to the serious differences among the major parties over the issue of federal structure.
Opposition parties had criticised Bhattarai's decision of dissolving the Constituent Assembly and had termed it a "unilateral move".
Since then opposition parties have been organising country-wide protests asking for Prime Minister Bhattarai's resignation and the formation of the national unity government.
President Yadav has been asking the top leaders of major political parties in Nepal to find a way out from the current political stalemate through consensus.
Yadav had assured Maoist chief Prachanda that he would not take any "extra constitutional step" to end the "ingrained" political crisis in the country and a decision based on consensus between political parties would be acceptable to him.