Going Going Gone!

Anirban Roy, Hindustan Times
Kathmandu, May 27, 2008

As Nepal’s monarchy draws near to an end, political parties on Tuesday decided to have a ceremonial president and an executive prime minister.

After three days of intense closed-door negotiations, leaders of the three largest parties in the Constituent Assembly  the Maoists, the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (UML)  agreed to the proposal after Nepal is declared a republic.

The first sitting of the assembly on Wednesday, which is likely to endorse the decision to declare Nepal a republic, will bring an end to the 240-year-old monarchy.

The president will serve as the country’s head-of-state. “As per the agreement, the president can exercise his powers to resolve any constitutional or political deadlock,” CPN (UML) general-secretary Jhalanath Khanal told HT.

However, the parties are yet to decide whether both the executive and ceremonial positions would be occupied by a single party or would be shared by the parties.

As the Maoists have emerged as the largest party, the new government is likely to be led by Prachanda. “The three major parties will float Tuesday’s agreement at the Seven-party Alliance meeting,” Khanal said.

The parties also decided to recommend to the government to declare a holiday from May 28 to 30, to allow people to take part in celebrations to herald the proclamation of republic.

The royal flag will be replaced by a national flag at the Narayanhiti royal palace. During the next one week, the parties will try to iron out the differences to amend the interim constitution.

The Nepali Congress and the CPN (UML) have been campaigning for an immediate amendment of the interim constitution to substitute the clause of two-third provision with simple majority for removal of the prime minister.

Members sworn in

The members of the assembly were sworn-in on Tuesday at a function at Birendra International Convention Centre, while a bomb exploded at a busy Kathmandu bus stop, injuring six.

Seventy-seven-year-old Kulbahadur Gurung of the Nepali Congress, the oldest member, administered the oath of office and secrecy to the members.

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