Even as Nepal’s political parties stare at a confrontation — with parties in government threatening to push a constitution by vote and parties in opposition walking out of the process — the United Nations has come out strongly in favour a statute with the ‘widest possible support’.
It has, in an unusually detailed statement, urged Nepali parties to complete constitution writing in a ‘timely and inclusive manner’; and concludes the process through ‘compromise, flexibility and inclusivity’.
The UN’s statement comes two months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had explicitly urged Nepali parties to conclude the constitution on time, and through consensus. The constitution’s deadline is January 22. The UN has been careful not to use the word ‘consensus’ but the spirit of the message indicates it is on the same page as Delhi. In the past, India and the UN have had deep disagreements on Nepal’s peace process, with Delhi actively lobbying to get rid of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN).
UN’s Under Secretary General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, concluded a two day visit to Nepal and met all of the country’s political leaders, including Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.
In his statement, besides reiterating UN’s support to Nepal, Feltman said that he had conveyed several messages of Secretary General Ban ki Moon to parties.
He said that ‘only Nepalese can take the important political decisions that are needed for the full implementation of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement’ and it was not for the United Nations to decide on the substance of the constitution or the timeline for its adoption.’ But it did look to Nepal’s leadership to complete the constitution-making process ‘in a timely and inclusive manner’. In a message aimed at Nepal’s citizenship clause which denies citizenship through mothers, the UN said it was important that the constitution contain no discriminatory provisions.