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Madhesi group to support Nepal statute amendment bill

After days of uncertainty, the Madhes-based parties in Nepal decided to support the constitution amendment bill tabled in parliament.

world Updated: Dec 11, 2016 16:03 IST
HT Correspondent
Nepal constitution amendments

A Nepalese activist from the Federal Alliance (members of the Madhesi and ethnic communities) to voice their anti-constitution concerns on the first anniversary of Nepal's constitution in Kathmandu on September 19.(AFP File)

After days of uncertainty, the Madhes-based parties in Nepal have decided to support the constitution amendment bill tabled in parliament.

The bill is expected to address concerns of Madhesi people who have been protesting over the content of the statute.

The government had registered a motion in parliament seeking changes in some provisions of the new constitution, including those on federal boundaries, language and citizenship.

At that time, the Madhesi Morcha, an alliance of Madhes-based parties, had rejected the proposals and called for changing it entirely.

But a meeting of the Federal Alliance, of which the morcha is a part, on Saturday decided to support the proposal  if the government revises it to address their concerns, especially on the provision pertaining to federal boundaries. 

This is a notable shift in the approach of regional parties as they had earlier refused to take ownership of the bill—despite the fact that it was introduced at their insistence—claiming the proposal addressed none of their demands. 

A statement issued after Saturday’s meeting said “the amendment bill has more or less addressed their concerns on three issues—citizenship, representation in the Upper House and working language of provinces.”

The morcha demanded that the government agree to revise the proposal and term five most populous districts of Tarai/Madhes region---Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Kailali and Kanchanpur—as disputed districts.

The government had earlier refused to revise the bill, and is yet to make its position clear after morcha softened its stance.

Recently, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’ Prachanda’ said he would not withdraw the proposal but will revise it if needed, in remarks the morcha termed as a positive step.

After the bill was registered in parliament, the main opposition CPN-UML has been obstructing House proceedings, calling the amendment proposal ‘anti-national’ and vowing not to allow its passage.

The party and its several sister organisations have been holding protests opposing the content of the bill.

The federal alliance denounced the activities of CPN-UML.

The acts of UML, which has been obstructing House and opposing to discuss amendment bill, are against the spirit of parliamentary norms and democratic values, it said.