NEPAL: Timeline of constitution stasis
Naresh Newar, KATHMANDU (IRIN) – Nepal’s parliament dissolved on 28 May after failing to meet its fourth and final deadline to produce a draft constitution. An empty legislature and a fragmented ruling party now underscore the challenges since the country’s decade-long civil war, which killed almost 18,000 according to government estimates, ended in November 2006.
IRIN chronicles the often contentious path to a post-war constitution.
22 November 2005: The Seven Party Alliance (SPA) finalizes a 12-point agreement with the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (UCPN-Maoist) in New Delhi, India, as a roadmap for resolving conflict and restoring democracy in Nepal.
6 April 2006: The Maoist-supported SPA declares a nationwide non-violent and peaceful pro-democracy people’s movement.
24 April: After Jana Andolan-II (“People’s Movement-II” – 19 days of protest and strikes), King Gyanendra reinstates the House of Representatives, which was dissolved in February 2005, and calls on the SPA to unify the nation. SPA accepts the reinstitution of Parliament.
26 April: Maoists declare a three-month unilateral ceasefire, agree to peace talks, and demand a new constitution.
28 April: Giraja Prasad Koirala, president of the Nepali Congress (NC) party, becomes prime minister of the new government.
30 April: The House of Representatives unanimously approves the Constituent Assembly (CA).
3 May: The government declares a ceasefire, removes the terrorist tag from Maoists, and invites the Maoist party for peace talks.
21 November: The armed insurgency that began on February 1996 formally ends with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the government and the Maoist party.
15 January 2007: The Interim Constitution – replacing the 1990 Constitution – is drafted by a committee headed by the late Justice Laxman Prasad Aryal.
23 January: The UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) is established after a request from the Maoists and the government.
1 April: The new government is formed and Constituent Assembly elections are set for 20 June 2007.
13 April: The Election Commission declares its inability to conduct the CA polls on 20 June and postpones the elections until November.
18 September: Maoist ministers resign from the cabinet after Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala rejects demands for a pre-poll proclamation of a republic.
5 October: The CA elections, re-scheduled for 22 November 2007, are postponed indefinitely after crisis talks fail to bring the Maoist party back into the government.
30 December: The Maoist party rejoins the government, making a deal to end the monarchy. A new date is set for CA elections in April 2008.
10 April 2008: The election of the 601-member CA results in a Maoist majority, greater social diversity in government, and increased representation of women and other minorities. The CA is mandated to draft a new constitution by 28 May 2010 to replace the Interim Constitution.
28 May: During its first meeting, the CA votes overwhelmingly to abolish the 240-year-old Hindu monarchy. Nepal is declared a Federal Democratic Republic.
21 July: The CA elects Ram Baran Yadav, leader of the Nepali Congress (NC) party, as Nepal’s first president.
15 August: Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is elected Nepal’s first prime minister.
4 May 2009: Dahal, also known as Prachanda, resigns as prime minister less than nine months later when the president blocks his move to fire the army chief.
23 May: Madhav Kumar Nepal, chairman of the constitution-drafting committee, is elected prime minister “unopposed”, with the support of representatives from 22 political parties in the Constituent Assembly.
28 May 2010: The CA’s initial deadline for a constitution is extended by one year.
30 June: Prime minister Nepal resigns under pressure from the opposition Maoist party but continues to serve as caretaker prime minister for seven months.
15 January 2011: UNMIN withdraws from the country.
3 February: The CA elects Jhala Nath Khanal, president of the Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML), as prime minister. Khanal agrees to step down by 13 August if no progress is made in drafting a constitution.
28 May: The Constituent Assembly’s term, and the Interim Constitution, expire for the second time.
29 May: The CA extends the deadline for a new constitution by three more months, even though the Supreme Court of Nepal ruled on 25 May 2011 that the initial extension in 2010 was unconstitutional.
14 August: Khanal resigns under intense pressure from his own party, CPN-UML (Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist) – but continues as caretaker prime minister until the new government is formed.
15 August: President Yadav calls on the parties to form a national consensus government by 21 August, but negotiations fail even after a three-day extension. The president calls for a parliamentary vote for a majority government.
28 August: Baburam Bhattarai, vice-chairman of the Maoist party, is elected the fourth prime minister.
29 August: Parliament endorses the proposal to extend the CA term for a third time. The new deadline is 30 November 2011.
1 November: The major political parties sign a seven-point agreement to conclude the peace process. This includes a multi-party consensus government; completion of the constitution drafting process; integrating 6,500 former fighters into the national army; paying out up to US$9,000 in cash to former fighters who do not enter the national armed forces; dismantling the para-military Maoist Young Communist League; forming a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Commission to Investigate Forced Disappearances within one month; and returning properties seized during the insurgency, with compensation to owners.
25 November: Nepal’s Supreme Court rules the CA can extend its term for the last time by a maximum of six months.
29 November: Parliament extends the CA term for the fourth time by six months, setting 27 May as the deadline for completing the constitution.
13 December: The dispute resolution sub-committee of the Constituent Assembly agrees to a mixed electoral system.
16 December: The same committee agrees on a bi-cameral legislature.
31 January 2012: The State Restructuring Commission submits its report to the government, proposing an 11-state federal model based on ethnicity and language.
11 March: Political parties agree to shorten the constitution-drafting process and bypass current procedures so as to endorse new constitutional clauses by the deadline.
17 March: A faction led by Maoist hardliner Mohan Baidhya, also known as ‘Kiran’, launches protests and a “national independence” movement against the ruling Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) saying the leadership has failed to deliver a national unity government or organizational reshuffling.
28 March: The Supreme Court refuses to revisit its decision to cap extensions of the CA term, leaving no legal alternative to meeting the deadline on 27 May.
30 March: The Special Committee for Supervision, Integration and Rehabilitation of Maoist combatants hands control of cantonments containing some 3,100 Maoist combatants to the Nepal Army and Armed Police Force.
10 April: The Nepali Army takes charge of the cantonments, including containers of weapons handed over by fighters after the 2006 peace deal.
19 April: Three major parties – the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN-Maoist), the Nepali Congress (NC) party, and the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) (CPN-UML) – agree to merge the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission to Investigate Forced Disappearances.
26 April: UCPN (Maoist) proposes that Nepal consist of 10 states named after rivers.
27 April: the Nepali Congress proposes six states, but does not suggest names.
1-31 May: The political disputes and constitutional delays spark a combined 257 days of “bandhs” – strikes – in 48 districts, shutting down roads, customs offices and businesses.
15 May: UCPN (Maoist), NC, CPN (UML), and the United Democratic Madheshi Front (a major coalition of four parties from the southern plains of Nepal along the Indian border, an area also known as Madhesh) demand an end to discrimination against Madheshi people, many of whom are migrants from India, greater autonomy in Nepal, and more representation in parliament. They agree to an 11-state model, saying they have settled all disputed constitutional issues such as state restructuring, the electoral system and forms of governance. 16 May: The United Democratic Madheshi Front threatens to leave the government, and rejects the 11-state model. The opposition CPN (UML) joins the government led by the UCPN (Maoist), a major move towards creating a national consensus government.
20 May: The Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), a nominally non-partisan interest group with strong Maoist ties, demands federal states based on ethnic identity, and calls a three-day general strike that shuts down major roads in the capital, Kathmandu.
22 May: The government tables a constitution amendment bill to extend the Constituent Assembly’s term by three months.
24 May: The Supreme Court issues an interim order to halt all government proceedings to extend the CA term.
27 May: The CA is dissolved at midnight without a new constitution being promulgated. Minutes before the deadline, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai announces a new election on 22 November 2012.
19 June: The Maoist ruling party splits. Hard-line members form the Nepal Communist Party, Maoist, saying the ruling party has strayed from “revolutionary” ideals in agreeing to a parliamentary system and integration of the army.