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War of words entangles Nepal constitution

world Updated: Dec 08, 2010 16:28 IST
Utpal Parashar

As if the ongoing deadlock over electing a new prime minister was not enough, Nepali lawmakers are engaged these days in a war of words over the country’s new constitution.

Nepal is in the process of drafting a new constitution by May 28 next year. But lawmakers from various parties are sharply divided on the words they want incorporated in the preamble.

Political impasse over the PM poll had led to the creation of a high level taskforce to iron out 210 contentious issues within December 11.

While half of those have been settled, parties are now quarreling on whether to use words like ‘people’s war’, ‘pluralism’ and ‘right to self determination’ in the preamble.

Maoists want their 10-year-old insurgency, incorporated as people’s war either in the preamble or in the explanatory note. Other parties are opposing the demand.

“The Maoist insurgency can’t be termed as people’s war as several innocent people were killed. It may be mentioned as an armed revolution,” said Nepali Congress lawmaker Ramesh Lekhak.

The former rebels are also opposing inclusion of the term pluralism. Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) and others want it included.

And finally the Maoists want the phrase ‘right to self determination’ incorporated. But others say that its exact meaning needs to be explained before they agree.

Nepal has been without an effective government for five months now and 16 rounds of voting to elect a new prime minister has failed to yield any outcome due to differences among the major parties.

The deadlock has also affected the stalled peace process as well as drafting of the new constitution. Lawmakers now have only more five months to complete both crucial tasks.

Till date the taskforce has agreed on issues like recognizing Nepali as the country’s national language and single citizenship for all citizens with provision for provincial identity.