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Nepal parties now agree on seven states in new constitution

world Updated: Aug 21, 2015 23:11 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times

Protesters chant slogans as they march on a road during a general strike organised by a 30-party alliance led by a hardline faction of former Maoist rebels, who are protesting against the draft of the new constitution, in Kathmandu. (Reuters Photo)

Violent protests in Madhes and mid-western regions forced major parties in Nepal on Friday to reconsider an earlier agreement and decide on dividing the country into seven federal states in the new constitution.

Three major parties including opposition Maoists, which had agreed on six states barely two weeks ago, decided on the new model following marathon meetings.

The decision has been opposed by Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Loktantrik), a signatory to the earlier deal, which has decided to go for agitation like other Madhesi parties.

“Today’s special committee meeting has agreed on seven states. Demarcation of boundaries of the new states would be done by the federal commission,” tweeted former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai.

The Maoist leader who is chairman of the Constitution Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee stated that the boundaries of five states decided as per the earlier deal would remain intact.

“We are opposed to the new agreement on seven states, but will continue to remain in constituent assembly,” said MJF (D) chief Bijay Kumar Gachchadar addressing the press.

This is the third agreement the major parties have reached on the number of new states in the constitution. They had first agreed on an eight-state model followed by one with six states.

Following the second agreement this month on six states, protests had erupted in districts in Madhes region bordering India and in mid-western Nepal. Curfew had to be imposed in several areas after they turned violent.

Nepal’s eight-year-old constitution drafting process has entered final phase with deals on contentious issues among major parties. But the agreements are being opposed by several parties in Madhes and indigenous groups.