The Nepal government has formed a political committee to resolve the fresh demarcation of federal units as demanded by Madhesi parties opposed to the country’s new Constitution.
The decision was made late on Thursday night at a cabinet meeting, a day prior to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s six-day official visit to India.
Madhesi parties, who have been demanding the redrawing of boundaries of states, have described the move as unilateral and questioned the committee’s validity in the absence of any terms of reference.
Information minister Sherdhan Rai told journalists the 11-member committee, to be headed by deputy prime minister Kamal Thapa, will submit its recommendations in three months.
He said the committee, which will include members of opposition parties and the agitating Madhesi parties, will be given full shape after Oli returns from India on February 24.
“This is a unilateral move from the government. We will not join any committee without any terms of reference,” said Laxman Lal Karna, co-chairperson of Sadbhawana Party.
Karna’s party is part of the United Democratic Madhesi Front, which is seeking a change in the seven-state model incorporated in the Constitution to accommodate two states in Madhes, the region in southern Nepal bordering India.
The UDMF had earlier informally agreed to settle the demarcation row by forming a political mechanism, but there were disagreements on details and the timeframe for settling the matter.
The government decided to go ahead and constitute the committee without taking the UDMF on board after several meetings on Wednesday and Thursday failed to break the deadlock.