Nepal plunges into turmoil as politicians scuffle over constitution

KATHMANDU, Jan 23:  Nepal plunged deeper into crisis today after feuding politicians, throwing microphones and shoes, failed to meet a deadline to table a new constitution, seen as a key step to stability in the Himalayan buffer state wedged between Asian powers China and India.     Opposition party lawmakers stormed the well of parliament late yesterday to prevent the ruling coalition from pushing ahead with a vote to salvage the draft of a charter marred by political rivalries.     ‘Political leaders must explain to people why they failed to fulfil their commitment,’ said Subas Nemwang, chairman of the Constituent Assembly tasked with preparing the charter.
Landlocked Nepal has been in political limbo since 2008, when it’s 239-year-old monarchy was abolished. An interim constitution was put in place a year earlier at the end of a civil war fought by Maoist rebels.
Bitter disagreements over how to carve out new provinces have rendered the government unable to move forward, with consecutive parliaments missing deadlines to present a new constitution, stoking further insecurity in a nation traumatized by its bloody past.
Protesters set dozens of vehicles on fire yesterday as the Maoist-led opposition called for a general strike to pressure the government into meeting their demands. On the same day, opposition lawmakers stormed parliament’s main chamber to disrupt the session, throwing microphones and shoes and injuring at least three security officers in the  fray.


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