Nepal Maoists agree to join newly elected assembly

AP News
Posted: Dec 24, 2013 7:44 AM

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — The party of Nepal's former communist rebels agreed Tuesday to join the Constituent Assembly elected last month, easing a stalemate that has delayed formation of the body responsible for the Himalayan nation's constitution.

The major political parties have agreed to form a parliamentary committee to investigate the Maoists' allegations of election irregularities, party spokesman Agni Sapkota said.

The United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) came third in the Nov. 19 election and immediately threatened to not join the assembly unless a high-level independent investigation into the polls was ordered. But after several negotiations, the Maoists agreed to a parliamentary investigation after the assembly is formed and to send their members to the assembly.

The parties also agreed to ask the Election Commission to extend the deadline for naming candidates to 335 assembly seats being apportioned by how many votes each party won in the election. The current deadline is Wednesday.

The failure by the parties to name their candidates has delayed formation of the 601-seat Constituent Assembly. Nepal has only a skeletal interim constitution, and the last assembly formed after 2008 elections didn't manage to write a full constitution due to disputes between political parties on a range of issues.

The Maoists fought government troops until 2006 when they joined a U.N.-monitored peace process, locked away their guns and confined their fighters in camps. They were the leading party after the 2008 polls, and an agreement reached in that assembly allowed for some ex-fighters to receive government money to return to civilian lives, while others joined the national army.