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Nepalese leaders vow draft constitution in a year

Published on Jan 22, 2014 8:17 PM
Newly elected members of Nepal's Constituent Assembly attend the first parliament meeting after November elections, in Kathmandu on January 22, 2014. The new assembly is elected to write a constitution after the abolition of the 240-year-old feudal monarchy that the Maoists fought against. --PHOTO: REUTERS 

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Leaders from across Nepal's political divide pledged Wednesday to draw up a constitution for the war-torn Himalayan nation within a year as the new parliament convened for the first time.

More than two months after an election which was marred by fraud accusations from the defeated Maoist party, the assembly tasked with agreeing on the constitution held its first meeting in Kathmandu. But while there were threats from the Maoists of street protests if they end up feeling marginalised in the constituent assembly, they did join the other parties in promising to reach an agreement within the next 12 months.

"Everyone wants us to deliver the constitution," said Sushil Koirala, the president of the Nepali Congress party and the man expected to become the next prime minister. "It will be drafted within a year."

His words were echoed by Baburam Bhattarai, a former Maoist prime minister who is also a member of the new 601-member assembly.

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