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Madhesi demand to amend Constitution to be considered only after polls

Nepal’s PM Deuba assured Madhesi parties of passing the Constitution amendment bill after the second phase of local polls, and urged parties to support the government in holding the elections.

world Updated: Jun 09, 2017 20:54 IST
Anil Giri
Nepal’s newly elected prime minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba.
Nepal’s newly elected prime minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba.(Reuters)

Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Friday made it clear that amendments in Constitution to address the demands of Madhes- based parties will only be made after the second phase of local polls are over.

“It is unfortunate that we can’t endorse the Constitution amendment bill at the time as the second phase of local level polls is approaching,” Deuba said, responding to questions raised by lawmakers in Parliament.

Assuring the disgruntled parties of passing the bill after the second phase of the polls, he urged the agitating political parties to not doubt his commitment and to support the government in holding the elections.

The prime minister’s statement has put the Madhes-based parties in a dilemma on whether to join the polls. Nearly 60 people were killed and dozens injured since they started their anti-Constitution protest in 2015, but no headway was made in several rounds of talks with successive governments.

It is also said that there is split within the Madhes-based parties over whether to join the local elections, which is largely taking place in their home turf, the Tarai region.

An amendment in the Constitution requires two-third votes in Parliament, which the present government does not have. For this, Deuba will have to bring on board the main opposition, CPN-UML, or take fringe and independent lawmakers in confidence, which is a tall order.

Madhesi parties have demanded an increase in the numbers of local units according to the population ratio — more than 50% of the country’s population lives in the Tarai area and the parties are looking for a bigger share of the pie.