Nepal to amend new Constitution to address Madhesis' demands

Nepal to amend new Constitution to address Madhesis' demands

Nepal to amend new Constitution to address Madhesis' demands
Nepal government has decided to amend the new Constitution to address two key demands of agitating Medhesis regarding proportional representation and constituency delimitation in a bid to break the months-long political logjam, a move welcomed by India.

The decision was taken at an emergency Cabinet meeting held at Singha Durbar here last night which also agreed to set up a political mechanism to recommend solutions to disputes over the proposed provincial boundaries within three months of its formation.

The agitating Madhes-based parties have been protesting for over four months against the seven-province model proposed in the new Constitution adopted on September 20 that divides their ancestral land as a way to politically marginalise them. Over 50 people have been killed in protests by Madhesis since August.

The Madhesi parties have blockaded Nepal's border trade points with India, causing a shortage of essential goods and medicines in the landlocked Himalayan country.

The Cabinet meeting decided to move forward with the bill to amend the new Constitution which has already been tabled in Parliament.

The foreign ministry, in a statement released a day after police killed a class 10 student in fresh clashes, said the Cabinet had agreed to support the constitutional amendment bill that would increase the Madhesi presence in government bodies through proportional representation.

"The process for the adoption of the Constitution amendment bill tabled in the parliament will be advanced in order to ensure the participation in the state organs on the basis of proportionate inclusiveness," the statement said.

"With regard to the demarcation of provinces...a political mechanism will be constituted, which will submit its report along with recommendations within three months," the statement said.

Minister for Industry Som Prasad Pandey, after the meeting, told reporters, "The bill has ensured proportional inclusive participation in various state organs as demanded by the agitating parties and has also proposed delimitation of the electoral constituencies based on population,"

On political mechanism, he said, it "will recommend solutions to disputes over the proposed provincial boundaries within three months of its formation".

Nepal informed India that some important decisions have been taken to resolve demands raised by agitating Madhesis which was welcomed by the Indian government.

"Government of India welcomes these developments as positive steps that help create the basis for a resolution of the current impasse in Nepal. As a neighbour and well-wisher, India was deeply concerned at the unrest stemming from internal differences in Nepal on the Constitution," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

The three-point proposal has been discussed at several rounds of talks with the agitating parties which have expressed some reservations and have demanded further clarity.

Similarly, the meeting also urged the agitating parties to call off their protests, saying that their demands can be addressed through dialogue.

"Besides these issues, the demands related to citizenship and other issues can also be settled through negotiations. So, we urge them to withdraw the protests immediately," Pandey said.

"We are hopeful that there will be positive outcome from the decision," Pramod Dahal, press advisor of Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, said.
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