Nepal Reaches Political Breakthrough

FILE - A Nepalese man walks past damaged houses one month after the deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 25, 2015.

Nepal's notoriously divided political factions have reached an agreement that could lead to the drafting of a long-delayed constitution.

The breakthrough deal reached late Monday by Nepal's four main political parties would divide the Himalayan country into eight federal states.

Officials said Tuesday a draft constitution now could be written by July. Any draft charter needs a two-thirds majority to pass parliament.

Nepal's Constituent Assembly was supposed to draft a constitution by 2010, but fierce political infighting led to a series of missed deadlines.

One of the main areas of disagreement was whether new state boundaries in a federal Nepal would be drawn on the basis of ethnicity or geographical terrain.

That issue was left undecided under the compromise deal. Instead, a federal commission will be formed to draw up internal borders.

The agreement also did not specify what the states would be named, another issue of contention.

Still, leaders on all sides praised the agreement as historic, saying it will allow Nepal to rebuild following earthquakes in April and May.

The disaster, which killed at least 8,700 people, was widely seen as helping prod the country toward political reconciliation.

Nepal leaders began working on a constitution in 2008 after the country's centuries-old Hindu monarchy was overthrown by a decade-long Maoist insurgency.

The fighting, which ended with a historic peace agreement in 2006, claimed more than 13,000 lives.