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  • Chaos in the Nepali Constituent Assembly on the deadline of the new constitution

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL – 22 January 2015. After Tuesday’s early morning brawl between opposition and ruling party lawmakers at the Constituent Assembly (CA) and a daylong strike that shuttered Kathmandu, Nepali lawmakers met once again to discuss key provisions of the long-awaited Constitution on Thursday. However, chaos erupted soon after the session started, as ruling party lawmakers attempted to put forth a vote on pending issues in the constitution over which the opposition and ruling parties disagree, a move that was obstructed by the opposition. The session was once again delayed to Friday.

    The CA had given itself the 22 January deadline to promulgate a new constitution, but the issue of federalism has been keeping the parties from coming to an agreement over the substance of the constitution. The Maoist-led 30-party alliance has been calling for around a dozen identity-based states in order to address issues of discrimination against marginalized groups, while the ruling Nepali Congress party and the Unified Marxist-Leninist party are against such a system. The Maoists have repeatedly threatened to boycott the new Constitution and to stage mass protests if the ruling party pushes the Constitution through the CA without first establishing consensus, and say negotiations should continue until such a consensus is reached.

    On Wednesday, the international community, through the United Nations Resident Coordinator, issued a statement calling on all parties to return to the negotiating table and condemned “violence or threats of violence.” Analysts fear that furthering delaying the constitution, which is the last step in the peace process started in 2006, will result in increased risks of unrest throughout the country and in widespread disillusionment with the political process on the part of the electorate.

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY 22, 2015: A member of the Constituent Assembly is searched by a  security staff member at one of the main entrances to the Constituent Assembly in Kathmandu, Nepal on January 22, 2015. Photo: ©Omar Havana / All Rights are Reserved

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY 22, 2015: Security staff protect the main stage while opposition lawmakers obstruct the resumption of today’s meeting on the deadline for a new constitution at the Constituent Assembly in Kathmandu, Nepal on January 22, 2015. Photo: ©Omar Havana / All Rights are Reserved

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY 22, 2015: Members of the Nepali opposition chant slogans while boycotting today’s meeting on the deadline for a new constitution at the Constituent Assembly in Kathmandu, Nepal on January 22, 2015. Photo: ©Omar Havana / All Rights are Reserved

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY 22, 2015: A member of the Nepali opposition shouts slogans while security staff members make a human barrier during today’s meeting on the deadline for a new constitution at the Constituent Assembly in Kathmandu, Nepal on January 22, 2015. Photo: ©Omar Havana / All Rights are Reserved

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY 22, 2015: Members of the Nepali opposition are pushed back by security staff while boycotting today’s meeting on the deadline for a new constitution at the Constituent Assembly in Kathmandu, Nepal on January 22, 2015. Photo: ©Omar Havana / All Rights are Reserved

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY 22, 2015: Members of the Nepali opposition are pushed by security staff while boycotting today’s meeting on the deadline for a new constitution at the Constituent Assembly in Kathmandu, Nepal on January 22, 2015. Photo: ©Omar Havana / All Rights are Reserved

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY 22, 2015: Members of the Nepali opposition kick a table while boycotting today’s meeting on the deadline for a new constitution at the Constituent Assembly in Kathmandu, Nepal on January 22, 2015. Photo: ©Omar Havana / All Rights are Reserved

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY 22, 2015: A member of the Nepali parliament watches the chaos inside the Constituent Assembly during today’s meeting on the deadline for a new constitution in Kathmandu, Nepal on January 22, 2015. Photo: ©Omar Havana / All Rights are Reserved

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY 22, 2015: A member of the Nepali opposition climbs on top of a table during today’s meeting on the deadline for a new constitution at the Constituent Assembly in Kathmandu, Nepal on January 22, 2015. Photo: ©Omar Havana / All Rights are Reserved

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY 22, 2015: A member of the Nepali parliament takes a photo of the opposition protests inside the Constituent Assembly during today’s meeting on the deadline for a new constitution in Kathmandu, Nepal on January 22, 2015. Photo: ©Omar Havana / All Rights are Reserved

    Photography: ©Omar Havana / All Rights are Reserved