Drafting a new constitution is the next crucial step in Nepal’s “historic transformation,” the country’s Home Affairs Minister has told the General Assembly, underscoring its steadfast commitment to the peace process.
“From June 2006 when the peace process started, we have come a long way, with some ups and downs which is only natural for a complex peace process,” Bhim Bahadur Rawal said at the Assembly’s annual high-level debate yesterday.
That year, Government and the Maoists signed the Comprehensive Peace Accord ending a decade-long conflict that claimed some 13,000 lives. After conducting Constituent Assembly elections in May 2008, the Asian country abolished its 240-year-old monarchy and declared itself a republic.
“Yet, our national determination remains strong and unwavering and we are fully committed to bringing the ongoing peace process to its meaningful conclusion by resolving all outstanding issues,” Mr. Rawal said.
He pointed to remarkable progress has made in recent years, including the promulgation of the Interim Constitution and the elections for the Constituent Assembly.
That 601-member body, the official said, is one of the most inclusive assemblies, with women comprising one-third of its membership, and also includes the participation of representatives of different ethnic groups, regions, traditionally-marginalized communities and others.
Establishing a new constitution will “consolidate gains made over the years in establishing people as the real sources of sovereignty and State authority and guaranteeing multi-party democracy, human rights, federal structure and inclusive governance,” he said.
This step, Mr. Rawal underlined, will further push Nepal’s “historic transformation” of its political, economic and social structure.
The deadline for drafting the new constitution – considered a key element of the peace process – was extended in May as the parties remained deadlocked on issues such as power-sharing arrangements and the reintegration of the Maoist ex-combatants.
The Minister announced that the Government and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) have agreed to complete the process of integrating and rehabilitating former Maoist combatants within four months.
He also expressed his appreciation to the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) for supporting the country’s nationally-driven peace process.
Earlier this month, the Security Council voted to wind up UNMIN’s work in January next year after Nepal’s caretaker Government and political parties reached an agreement to complete the remaining tasks of the peace process by 14 January 2011.
In response, the Council decided unanimously to extend UNMIN’s mandate – set to have expired on 15 September – until 15 January 2011, after which the mission is to leave Nepal.