Nepal’s Maoist chief apologizes for parliamentary brawl


KATMANDU — Nepal’s Maoist chief apologized Wednesday for his party’s role in a parliament brawl that injured four security officers in the tense run-up to a deadline for a post-war constitution. Maoist lawmakers hurled chairs and scuffled with security staff early Tuesday as ruling party politicians tried to push proposals for a new charter through parliament before Thursday’s deadline. ��The confrontation in the constituent assembly meeting on Tuesday morning was a mistake,�� said Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known better as Prachanda. ��We had no intention of starting a fight but the situation got out of control,�� Prachanda told a press conference. He said the party had instructed lawmakers to disrupt proceedings by chanting slogans, but matters got out of hand when ruling party politicians attempted to move ahead with a vote on the terms of the constitution without all-party agreement. The former rebels say discussions should continue until all parties agree �X even if that means missing the deadline to approve the charter and complete a peace process begun in 2006, when they ended their decade-long insurgency. The United Nations and diplomats in Nepal urged politicians to return to the negotiating table ��in a spirit of flexibility and urgency.��

��The constitution is meant to be a foundational document … to be implemented peacefully and offer stability it will require the widest support,�� they said in a statement. Disagreements persist on crucial issues, with the opposition calling for new provinces to be created along lines that could favor historically marginalized communities such as the Madhesi and Limbu ethnic minorities. Other parties say such a move would be divisive and a threat to national unity. The ruling parties and their allies have the two-thirds majority in parliament that they need to approve a constitution without Maoist support. But the former insurgents have warned of further conflict if the parties fail to take opposition views into account. The Himalayan nation has endured political limbo since 2006, with no agreement on the new charter and growing disillusionment among ordinary people frustrated at the long delay. Lawmakers are widely expected to miss the approaching deadline, with parliament adjourned until Thursday after the opposition obstructed Wednesday’s morning session.