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Dozen Nepal lawmakers injured in clash over statute

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Dozen Nepal lawmakers injured in clash over statute
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Kathmandu: Over a dozen Constituent Assembly members in Nepal, including senior leaders, were injured Tuesday when opposition members attacked lawmakers of the ruling parties over issues concerning the new statute and disrupted the proceedings.

Lawmakers from the opposition parties led by Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-Maoist) vandalised the Nepal Constituent Assembly and attacked the lawmakers from the ruling coalition during the sitting Tuesday.

A self-imposed deadline set for Jan 22 over the promulgation of the new constitution is approaching after repeated failure to reach a consensus over the intricacies of the new statute.

The ruling Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) wanted to go ahead with voting to bring out the draft of the new statute.

Constituent Assembly chairman Subash Chandra Nembang announced the house could go ahead with the voting to bring out the draft statute, which led to rampage in the assembly.

Nembang allowed former prime minister and UCPN-Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai to address the assembly.

Bhattarai said the "assembly could turn into Mahabharata", and that triggered a conflict. As soon as he completed his address, Nembang tabled a proposal to allow the formation of a questionnaire committee to work over the disputed issues of the new statute before the voting.

The opposition parties rejected Nembang's proposal.

Bhattarai said: "Formation of the questionnaire panel will split the Constituent Assembly, paving the way for its demise."

The first Constituent Assembly was also dissolved in Nepal in 2012, following a conflict among parties, and ended without the promulgation of the constitution.

The opposition members started shouting and broke seats in the assembly. They also attempted to break the cordon to reach Nembang's chair. During the scuffle, CPN-UML chief K.P. Sharma Oli and CPN-UML vice chairperson Bidhya Bhandari sustained injuries.

"The scuffle occurred due to the unilateral approach of the ruling parties and the Constituent Assembly chairman. They should be held responsible for it," UCPN-Maoist chief whip Giriraj Mani Pokharel said.

"The Maoists have shown their true colours," said Oli.

"This is a condemnable act. It cannot be excused," Nembang said after the clash.

The major parties who claimed to be "closing gap" on the contentious issues failed to come up with concrete proposals, though top leaders remained busy in meetings throughout Monday.

The ruling parties in a cross-party meeting floated various options, including leaving the issue of federalism and forwarding to the drafting committee issues related to judiciary, electoral system and forms of government.

"But the Maoists and their supporters did not like the idea. We suggested that Nembang e allowed to act according to rules," said CPN-UML vice chairman Bhim Rawal.

Opposition leaders said the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-UML did not even agree to give them two days to discuss the options suggested by them.

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