Leaders from across Nepal's political divide yesterday pledged to draw up a constitution for the war-torn Himalayan nation within a year as the new parliament convened for the first time.
More than two months after an election which was marred by fraud accusations from the defeated Maoist party, the assembly tasked with agreeing on the constitution held its first meeting in Kathmandu.
But while there were threats from the Maoists of street protests if they end up feeling marginalised in the constituent assembly, they did join the other parties in promising to reach an agreement within the next 12 months.
"Everyone wants us to deliver the constitution," said Sushil Koirala, the president of the Nepali Congress party and the man expected to become the next prime minister. "It will be drafted within a year."
His words were echoed by Baburam Bhattarai, a former Maoist prime minister who is also a member of the new 601-member assembly.
"On the occasion of the first meeting of another constituent assembly today... let us commit to deliver a progressive constitution within a year," he said on Twitter.
The pledges lent an air of optimism to the new assembly -- which will also double up as a parliament -- nearly two years after lawmakers last met.
The Maoists only reluctantly agreed to take part in the assembly last month after initially threatening to boycott it over accusations of vote-rigging in the November 19 polls.
They were soundly beaten by both the Congress and the Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) parties, which are still locked in negotiations over forming a new coalition government.