Nepal fails to adopt blueprint, braces for turmoil
Nepal sank into political turmoil after lawmakers failed to agree on a new constitution, leaving the country with no legal government. The premier called new elections, but critics said he lacked the power to do so.
Security forces went on high alert Monday and riot police patrolled the streets after several political parties called for rallies to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and protest his unilateral decision to call elections for November. A few peaceful protests were reported.
"The country has plunged into a serious crisis," said Ram Sharan Mahat, a senior leader of the country's second-largest party, the Nepali Congress, who said that six months would not be enough time to prepare for new polling.
"This government has no legitimate grounds to continue," he said.
The squabbling political parties in Nepal's Constituent Assembly had failed to agree on a new blueprint for the Himalayan nation by their own deadline of midnight Sunday, despite repeated extensions of the due date over the past four years.
A key sticking point was whether the country's states should be drawn to give regional power bases to ethnic minorities.