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Nepal calls elections as constitution deadline passes

Nepal’s prime minister has announced elections in six months time after the country’s political parties failed to agree a new constitution.

Members of a special assembly have been struggling for years to find consensus ahead of Sunday’s deadline.

The parties were divided on the issue of whether states in the new federal system in Nepal should be formed and named along ethnic lines.

Baburam Bhattarai said there was “no alternative” to fresh elections.

“Though we were unable to promulgate the constitution, we have decided to seek a mandate through elections for a new Constituent Assembly on 22 November,” he announced in a televised address to the nation.

Violent protests

The announcement came after a cabinet meeting decided in favour of elections over declaring a state of emergency, which would have allowed parliament to be extended for six months.

Mr Bhattarai, who leads a national unity government made up of the four major parties, blamed rival groupings within the coalition for the breakdown of talks.

The debate over the ethnic identity of states has sparked violent protests in recent weeks.

On Sunday, ethnic groups staged demonstrations near the parliament building as the assembly of politicians argued inside.

A police spokesman told Reuters that more than a dozen people had been injured after protesters tried to break a security cordon outside parliament, prompting the police to baton charge the demonstrators and fire teargas.

BBC original link

05/17/2012 – 12:00


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