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Nepal govt tables constitution amendment bill

world Updated: Jan 08, 2017 18:26 IST
HT Correspondent
constitution amendment bill

Nepalese lawmakers stage a protest as other lawmakers vote a constitution amendment bill in Kathmandu on January 23, 2016. (AFP File)

Nepal government on Sunday tabled the constitution amendment bill in parliament despite resistance from the opposition parties including the main opposition CPN-UML.

The bill was presented amid much drama and chaos. The opposition parties had agreed to resume the House briefly to allow the government to table bills related to elections. Speaker Onsari Gharti announced that in the absence of Deputy Prime Minister Bimalendra Nidhi, who also holds the home portfolio, law minister Ajaya Shankar Nayak will table election bills. As soon as Nayak finished presenting those bills, Gharti allowed more time for the law minister to table the constitution amendment bill.

Opposition lawmakers chanted slogans near the well of the House but could not move upward to the rostrum due to tight security.

Both Speaker Gharti and Nayak belong to the ruling CPN(Maoist Center) party.

“House speaker Onsari Gharti set an unprecedented parliamentary practice by allowing the ruling parties to table the bill. We will continue our protests,” said UML leader Bam Dev Gautam.

The bill is one step forward to address the demands of agitating Madhes based political parties,  who have been calling for changes in constitutional provisions like citizenship, language, making constitution more inclusive and provincial demarcation.

Since the bill was registered in Parliament on November 29, the main opposition parties have been calling it “anti- national” and obstructing the House.

The opposition parties were under pressure to allow resumption of proceeding after Nepal’s Supreme Court last week issued an order that constitution amendment process was the prerogative of Parliament and any changes in the constitution through the parliamentary process was valid.  

But the government is struggling to secure required two-third majority to approve the bill, as ruling Nepali Congress and CPN(Maoist Center) and Madhes-based parties clearly do not have the required numbers.   

“I tried my best for over a month to seek a way out for consensus with our established norms and practices, I resumed the House processing today,” Gharti said after the resumption of the House.