Nepal election put off until April-May

Nov. 21, 2012 at 1:57 AM

KATHMANDU, Nepal, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Nepal's Maoist-led interim government announced the postponement of Constituent Assembly elections, set for this week, until next year.

Nepalnews.com said the beleaguered government announced the elections would be held in the month of Bisakh or between April and May of next year and sought the approval of President Ram Baran Yadav.

The interim government has been in place since May after Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, a Maoist, dissolved the 601-membout constituent assembly. New elections were to be held Thursday, but opposition parties, demanding Bhattarai first resign, had threatened to boycott the poll.

A new date for the election, now scheduled for next year, would be decided after consultations with all parties, Communication Minister Raj Kishore Yadav said, the Voice of America reported.

The constituent assembly would be charged with completing a draft constitution for the new Himalayan state but the task remains unfinished for years, despite several extensions of the deadline.

An interim budget has been approved until elections next year.

Nepal for more than 200 years had been a Hindu kingdom prior to the decade-long Maoist-led rebellion which ended in 2006 after the Maoists agreed to a peace process. In the subsequent elections held in 2008, the Maoists won the largest number of seats in the assembly but did not have a majority, leading to the current political impasse among the dozens of political parties and leaving the country without a draft constitution for electing a Parliament.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Peace Corps resumed its program in Nepal after an eight-year absence after the U.S. State Department ended its designation of the Maoists as a terrorist organization.

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