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Politics

Nepal's newly elected assembly to convene Jan. 22

KATHMANDU -- Nepal's second Constituent Assembly, which was mired in political and procedural hurdles immediately after being elected on Nov. 19, is finally convening on Jan. 22, the prime minister's office said Sunday.

     President Ram Baran Yadav on Saturday entrusted the head of the interim government, Khil Raj Regmi, to call the meeting, overcoming the final impediment more than two months after the election. There had been confusion over whether the president or the chairman of the interim government should call the meeting.

     Before this row, the assembly's formation was delayed by a party led by former Maoist insurgents who announced an assembly boycott over alleged poll rigging. They later agreed to join the assembly. The Maoists won the largest number of seats in the previous election, but came a distant third this time.

    The 601-member assembly, in which the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist won the highest and second-highest number of seats, is tasked with drawing up a permanent constitution that the previous assembly elected in 2008 failed to finalize. The previous assembly was dissolved last year after a months-long deadlock.

    The new constitution will cap a seven-year-old peace process with the Maoists, who fought state forces for 10 years until 2006. The insurgency cost 17,000 lives.

    Political parties have vowed to finalize a permanent constitution within a year.
The decade-long insurgency and continuing political turmoil have delayed development projects and dried up investment.
Nepal is currently facing a 12-hour daily power outage caused by delays in initiating construction of new hydropower plants.
(Kyodo)

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