Key constitution amendment bill tabled in Nepal parliament

Key constitution amendment bill tabled in Nepal parliament

Nepal's much-awaited Constitution Amendment Bill which includes proportionate representation and allocation of parliamentary seats on the basis of population - addressing two major demands of agitating Indian-origin Madhesi parties - was tabled in Parliament today.

The Reconstruction Authority Bill which was also tabled will help expedite post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation works in the country that was rocked by two devastating earthquakes in April and May that killed over 9,000 people.

The main opposition Nepali Congress had been obstructing the government's move to table the Reconstruction bill alone, while NC had insisted that both the bills should be tabled simultaneously.

Chairman of bill committee Ganga Chaudhary tabled the bill related to Reconstruction Authority while Minister of Law Agni Kharel tabled the Constitution Amendment Bill.

However, lawmakers of the Madhesi parties had opposed the move saying that they want the major parties to first address their demands related to re-demarcation of provincial boundaries, the key demand of the Madhesis, before tabling the Constitution Amendment Bill.

Nepali Congress lawmaker Nabindra Raj Joshi said the Constitution Amendment Bill was tabled in the Parliament to address the demands put forth by the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front.

If the bill is endorsed by Parliament, it would help in resolving the ongoing crisis in southern Nepal, he said. The Constitution Amendment Bill was registered by the previous Nepali Congress-led government under the premiership of Sushil Koirala.

Meanwhile, a team headed by Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum Democratic (MPRF-D) and Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar met Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli and urged him to implement the eight-point agreement the party had reached with the government earlier.

The memorandum submitted to Oli contains demands to declare those who died during Terai-Madhes agitation as martyrs, provide rightful compensation to those whose houses and property were destroyed and looted and withdraw cases filed against Madhesi party cadres.

Gachhadar also urged the prime minister to re-demarcate the provincial boundaries and make the new Constitution fully inclusive among others.

Oli said that he hoped for implementation of the demands of MPRF-D saying that the government will address the genuine demands of the Madhesi people in line with the new Constitution.

Madhesis, who share strong cultural and family bonds with Indians, have imposed a general strike in much of southern Nepal, causing a shortage of fuel and other essential goods.

Since the promulgation of the Constitution in Nepal in September, the Indian-origin Madhesis have been agitating as they believe the new charter discriminates against them, denying them equal standing with other Nepalis.

The agitation has obstructed supply of essential commodities including petrol thereby creating a crisis in Nepal which blames India for imposing an "economic blockade".

India maintains that it has imposed no such blockade, and that the restrictions are a result of security concerns as Madhesis are protesting the new Constitution in the Terai region of Nepal bordering India.

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