November 17, 2008 / 5:47 AM / in 11 years

New Nepal constitution to be ready by May 2010

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - The nascent republic of Nepal will have a new constitution ready by May 2010, a top official said on Monday, the culmination of a peace process that ended a decade-long civil war.

The country’s main political parties and former Maoist rebels signed a peace deal in 2006 and adopted an interim constitution last year.

This year the Maoists emerged as the biggest political party in an election for a constituent assembly meant to prepare a new constitution. They are now heading a coalition government whose main task is to oversee the drafting of the new constitution.

Subas Nemwang, chairman of the assembly, said the panel approved a schedule on Sunday under which a draft of the new constitution would be ready by the end of May 2010. It will then be formally promulgated by the president the same month.

“That will be a historic occasion for Nepal because it will be the first time ever when the country will have a constitution prepared by members of an elected constituent assembly,” Nemwang told Reuters.

Since the 1950s Nepal has swung between absolute monarchy, democracy and back again to absolute monarchy.

But in 2006 weeks of pro-democracy protests ended a brief period of the king’s absolute rule in the Himalayan nation, paving the way for a ceasefire in the war and then a peace deal.

The Maoists eventually got the 239-year-old monarchy abolished through an assembly vote this year.

“The movement for democracy and the peace process with the Maoists will also come to a conclusion on the day when the new constitution is promulgated,” Nemwang said.

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