Madhesi parties opposed to Nepal’s constitution and the government informally agreed on Friday to create a mechanism for fresh demarcation of federal states, a key demand of protestors who had blockaded the border with India.
A meeting held at Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli’s residence between major parties in the ruling coalition and the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) agreed to resolve the contentious issue soon.
Further talks were underway on the terms and reference of the mechanism and an official announcement is expected on Sunday, ahead of Oli’s visit to India next week.
The political mechanism, which will be endorsed by parliament, is expected to suggest fresh demarcation of boundaries of the seven states proposed in the constitution adopted last September.
Nepal doesn’t have any states and restructuring of the country’s 75 districts into new federal units is a key component of the new statute.
Madhesis, the people living in the Terai plains bordering India, opposed the seven-state model, and launched an agitation last August. Since then, violent clashes with security forces have claimed 58 lives.
The UDMF was opposed to several clauses in the constitution, but its main contention was that all 20 districts in the Terai region should be included in two Madhes states.
According to the seven-state model, three districts in the east, two in the west and one in central Terai have been left out of the two states to be created in the southern plains.
Two recent amendments to the constitution regarding proportional representation in elected bodies and fresh delimitation of constituencies on the basis of population - two demands raised by UDMF - were rejected by the Madhesi parties as they didn’t deal with the demarcation of the states.
The UDMF recently ended its blockade of key border trade points with India, citing troubles faced by the people. But it has vowed to carry on its protest in different forms till its demands are addressed completely.