Nepal to elect 601-member constituent assembly

Last Updated: Tue, Sep 17, 2013 12:00 hrs

Kathmandu, Sep 17 (IANS) The Nepal government Tuesday formally decided to elect a 601-member Constituent Assembly (CA) in the Nov 19 elections for drafting a new constitution.

A cabinet meeting decided to submit an ordinance to the president's Office to make an amendment to change the earlier provision of 491 members to a 601-member assembly, Xinhua reported.

In the absence of parliament, the president's office is a mandated institution to make necessary changes in the interim constitution but it is mandatory for the president to endorse the government's decision.

"We have decided to make necessary legal arrangements for holding (the) Nov 19 election(s)," government spokesperson Madhav Poudel told media persons after the cabinet meeting.

Earlier, the High Level Political Committee (HLPC), a mechanism of the parties that back the government, decided to elect 601 members as demanded by some poll-opposing parties.

The 601-member CA elected in 2008 was dissolved last year without delivering a new constitution which had drawn criticism for being too big.

After the criticism, the HLPC March 13 this year agreed to reduce the size of the CA to 491.

However, it agreed to retain a 601-member assembly after some fringe parties said that a 491-member body cannot be inclusive.

The government's decision has paved the way for the Election Commission (EC) to make technical preparations for the Nov 19 elections.

The government decided to finalise the legal arrangements after the talks with the Communist Party of Nepal(Maoist) (CPN-M) failed Tuesday.

The chances of the CPN-M, a breakaway faction of the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), participating in the elections appear slim.

CPN-Maoist, the fourth largest party in the Himalayan nation, is threatening to obstruct the elections.

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