With only 36 days left until the deadline for a the new constitution, all political parties opined that it looks impossible to complete it by 28 May 2010. The Constituent Assembly (CA) term extension is the dominating issue these days in the Nepalese politics, each of the three major political parties have different positions. Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M), the largest political party in the CA has demanded leadership in the new government before the extension of the CA term, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML) has proposed extending the CA term and some of the leaders of Nepali Congress (NC) have proposed for extension while some others have expressed a wish for elections for fresh mandate after May 28.

Some legal and constitutional experts have expressed their views that extension of the CA term is unconstitutional, claiming that the CA should be automatically dissolved after May 28. While some other experts have expressed that the CA term can be extended on the ground that the mandate for CA lasts until the creation of the new constitution. However, those who are against for extending the term are not proposing any options for way out after May 28.

The provision of term of the CA in the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007 is: "Unless dissolved earlier pursuant to a resolution passed by the Constituent Assembly, the term of the Constituent Assembly shall be two years after the date on which the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly is held. ... ... ... Provided that if the making of constitution cannot be completed by the reason of the proclamation of as State of Emergency in the country, the Constituent Assembly may, by a resolution to that effect, extend its term for an additional period not exceeding six months."

With uncertainty over whether a new constitution will exist by the May 28 deadline, the political parties have at least started listening to each other to minimize differences and to avert possible crises. The meeting of the High level Political Mechanism (HLPM), represented by the three major political parties took place on Wednesday, April 21 and agreed to move ahead with consensus and discussed the possibility of breaking the deadlock through a "package deal" of contentious issues. Proposed by the UCPN-Maoist, the package deal will incorporate all major issues associated with the peace process and the new constitution including formation of the new government, integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants, structure of the federation, and the forms of governance in the new constitution. The UCPN-Maoists has asserted its position that it would not agree to extend the CA term unless the current government resigned. The meeting concluded only reaching an agreement to discuss the package deal in the next meeting on Saturday, April 24.

The recent, and ongoing, armed training by the Maoists party to their cadres in different parts of the country has raised serious concern and drew criticisms In the HLPM meeting, NC and CPN-UML have demanded military training stop as a condition of discussing the package deal. Some ministers of the both parties also claimed that the training and demonstration have violated the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Maoist leaders however said that the training is not armed but a part of regular physical exercise conducted to keep their cadres active and physically fit. The general population is also worried about the activities of the Maoists raising question about security.

In fact the Nepalese people have not in the mood to go for more elections, just two years after the last vote was held, to a CA that has yet to deliver it's core responsibility and draft a new constitution. The people have not yet lost the hope for a logical end of the peace process even though frustration towards the political parties has been raised everyday.

Posted by Ambika Pokhrel, Local Correspondent for Nepal, 22 April 2010