South Asia

Nepal lawmakers agree to extend assembly

Nepalese Prime Minister Jhalnath Khanal (L), ministers and lawmakers attend a parliament session in Kathmandu on 28 May 2011
Image caption The lawmakers have agreed to finish a first draft of the new constitution in three months

Lawmakers in Nepal have agreed to extend their parliament by three months to finish writing a new constitution.

After a marathon parliamentary session over the weekend, the MPs agreed to extend their elected assembly.

The deal ends weeks of negotiations between political parties who have been unable to agree on how to take the peace process forward.

The UN chief Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the agreement and urged the MPs to quickly conclude the peace process.

Under a peace deal struck between Maoist rebels and the state more than four years ago, the MPs are committed to writing a new national charter and ensuring peace, the BBC's Joanna Jolly says in Kathmandu.

In a five-point deal, the lawmakers committed to finishing a first draft of the new constitution, as well as completing the peace process and forming a national unity government.

In particular, the issue of what to do with 19,000 former Maoist soldiers has stalled progress.

Many consider this agreement to be an uneasy compromise between Nepal's three major parties that fails to bridge their deep divisions.

And, after months of political instability, there is scepticism that this deal will produce results, our correspondent says.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the agreement.

He welcomes the parties' "reaffirmation of their commitment to complete the basic tasks of the peace process, particularly the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist army personnel", UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

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