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Nepal politicians claim constitution breakthrough

Leaders say an agreement on a federalist structure with 11 states will allow them to meet the May 27 deadline
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Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal known as Prachanda waves to the crowd during a mass meeting organised by Maoists to mark the 17th anniversary of the start of their "people's war", in Kathmandu on February 13, 2012. Nepalese politicians said Tuesday that the country's major political parties have reached an agreement on a proposed federal structure that will allow them to meet a May 27 deadline for framing a new constitution. (PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

Nepal's political parties have finally reached an agreement that should allow them to meet the latest deadline and draft a new constitution by May 27, Reuters reported.

The news agency cited a Nepali Congress party leader as saying that the stakeholders in the process agreed on a federalist structure with 11 states, eliminating one of the biggest roadblocks delaying the new constitution so far.

"We have reached a consensus on creating 11 states and their names will be decided by provincial assemblies to be elected later," Reuters quoted Ram Chandra Paudel, a leader of the Nepali Congress party, as saying. "This means we will prepare the constitution in time," Paudel said.

According to the agency, Paudel added that "the constitution will take care of the aspirations of all nationalities," alluding to concerns that the competing interests of Nepal's different ethnic groups be protected by the federal structure.

The Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted a leader from the CPN-UML as saying that in addition to the 11 states, whose names and boundaries have not been decided, the major parties had agreed on the following points:

- There will be direct elections for president with limited powers and prime minister, who will be elected through the Parliament, will be vested with executive powers. 

- The president will be the head of the state and the prime minister will be the head of the government and the Parliament's supremacy will be maintained.

- The president will have no power to dissolve the Parliament under the mixed system. 

That said, some analysts believe that the specific boundaries of the 11 states might still stymie the process, according to Reuters.

Nepal has been struggling to draft a new constitution since the abolition of the monarchy in 2008. Successive provisional governments have already missed several deadlines in the process.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/india/nepal-constitution-breakthrough

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