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Nepal govt moves draft proposals to amend constitution

Nepal government has floated a set of proposals to amend the new constitution to address the demands of agitating Madesh-based parties and other excluded communities.

world Updated: Dec 05, 2016 20:33 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindusan Times
Nepal constitution,Madesh,Nepal citizenship
Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, walks before addressing parliament in Kathmandu on September 8.(AFP File)

Nepal government has floated a set of proposals to amend the new constitution to address the demands of agitating Madesh-based parties and other excluded communities.

According to the draft proposal obtained by the Hindustan Times, any Nepali naturalised citizen who had been residing in Nepal for 10 years can hold all major constitutional positions such as those of president and prime minister.

The government said it was ready to amend the Article 289 (1) of the new constitution and include, “A person who has obtained the citizenship of Nepal by descent, a person who has obtained the naturalised citizenship of Nepal and resided in the country for 10 years after receiving it or a person who has obtained the citizenship of Nepal by virtue of birth shall be qualified for the appointment in all constitutional bodies.”

The move has resulted in a major uproar and Prime Minister’s office on Sunday quickly denied making any such proposal.

Madeshi leaders said the proposed Constitutional amendment has given continuity to relevant provisions mentioned in the interim Constitution.

The new constitution in Nepal has a provision that all major position including should be held by citizens by descent. Madeshi parties had been opposing the constitution since its promulgation.

A top Madeshi leader told HT that the provision of citizenship in the new constitution was regressive than in the interim constitution.

Currently, the Article 289 (1) of new constitution bars naturalised citizens from holding nine key constitutional positions: president, vice president, prime minister, chief justice, parliament speaker, chief minister, chief of the army staff and heads of the other security agencies.

Main opposition CPN-UML has objected to the new draft proposal to change the article. “ We had thought a lot while allowing nine key constitutional positions only for those with citizenship obtained by descent. If such proposal will be tabled in the Parliament, we will not accept it,” said party secretary Pradip Gywali.

There was opposition to the draft proposal even from within the Maoist party. Party vice chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha said amendment to the constitution to make naturalised citizens eligible for the head of the state and the government is next to impossible.

The government has also proposed a commission to settle frequent rows over demarcation of provinces and local administrative units. As per the previous agreements and understanding between various successive governments and Madesh based parties and reports submitted by state restructuring commission and report delivered by a parliamentary panel on federalism, the new commission will look into those reports and will come up with a new suggestion, said the draft proposal.

The draft includes proposals for formation of the Upper House whose representation would include one woman, one Dalit and one disabled or representation from backward community from each province. The remaining members will be elected based on population ratio: Higher the population of any province, larger the representation.

The government proposal states that as per the recommendation made by Language Commission, the list of languages spoken within Nepal will be added in Annex of the constitution.

As per the proposal, if any foreign woman marries a Nepali citizen, she can obtain Nepali citizenship after giving up her former citizenship.

The draft also states that communities that are backward due to social, economic and educational reasons would be given equal access in each and every entities of the state as per the principle of proportional inclusiveness.

First Published: Nov 06, 2016 21:32 IST