Nepal adopts new constitution amid protests

Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav, center, gestures over the country's new constitution next to Chairman of the Constituent Assembly Subhas Newang, right, at a special function in Kathmandu on Sunday.

Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav, center, gestures over the country’s new constitution next to Chairman of the Constituent Assembly Subhas Newang, right, at a special function in Kathmandu on Sunday.

Nepal on Sunday formally adopted a much anticipated and long-delayed constitution that took more than seven years to complete following a decade of political infighting.

Security was stepped up across the nation, with smaller political parties and ethnic groups opposed to the new constitution issuing fresh threats of violence.

President Ram Baran Yadav signed the constitution and made the proclamation announcement, setting off a roar of applause from members of the Constituent Assembly in Katmandu.

“We believe that the adoption of the new constitution has now opened the path for development of the country,” Yadav told the assembly.

The new constitution replaces an interim one that was supposed to be in effect for only a couple of years but has governed the nation since 2007.

On the streets of Katmandu, the capital, many Nepalese said they were happy with the new charter.

“This really long chapter is now finally closed,” said Shyam Sharma, a student who watched the president’s motorcade drive toward the assembly. “Now the country can focus on other important issues like developing the country, improving the economy. If these politicians had agreed a few years back, we would not have wasted so much time, energy and money.”

The key part of the constitution, passed on Wednesday after a decade of bickering and violent protests, sets the country up as a secular federation of seven states, each with a legislature and chief minister.

However, some ethnic and religious groups say lawmakers ignored their concerns over how state borders should be defined. They want more states, including ethnically based ones, bigger territory for larger groups and more seats for ethnic minorities in parliament and government.

Laxman Lal Karna, a senior leader of the Madhesi ethnic group in southern Nepal, said the new constitution failed to address many of the issues and that protests would continue.

The violence over the past several weeks has left at least 44 people dead.

The three main political parties backing the constitution have made a fresh appeal for Madhesi to join talks.

“They may disagree with the size and makeup of these states, but that is not a really big issue,” Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said Saturday.

There are more than 100 ethnic groups in Nepal, and some say the new constitution still limits their representation. Though members of parliament are to be chosen through a proportional representation vote to ensure that minority groups are represented, the groups say the number needs to be increased.

The main parties say those issues can be fixed later.

“The constitution is not something that cannot be absolutely changed. It can always be amended later when needed,” said Khadga Prasad Oli of the Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist Leninist.

Some among the country’s majority Hindu population also believe the constitution should have restored Nepal as a Hindu nation. The Constituent Assembly voted down that proposal.

Police said thousands of officers were guarding streets across the nation and checking passengers on highways.

Opposition parties called a general strike to protest the constitution, but it had little effect on the traffic and markets remained open.


Here are some facts about the constitution:

* The constitution defines Nepal as a secular country, despite widespread protests for it to be declared a Hindu state.

* A clause stating “Religious and cultural freedom, with the protection of religion and culture practiced since ancient times” has angered some people who say it favors Hinduism.

* Proselytizing remains illegal, reflecting fears of growing numbers of low-caste and other marginalized groups converting to Christianity.

* Rights to citizenship were hotly debated during the drafting and critics say the constitution discriminates against women in terms of passing on citizenship.

* The constitution is the first in Asia to specifically protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. The state and the judiciary are prohibited from discriminating against sexual and gender minorities.

* The rhododendron is the national flower, and the cow remains the national animal after seeing off a charge from several lawmakers proposing the one-horned rhino.


Violence erupts at Burkina Faso hotel where mediators gather
California firefighters struggle to control blazes
%d bloggers like this:
Powered by : © 2014 Systron Micronix :: Leaders in Web Hosting. All rights reserved

| About Us | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Disclaimer | Contact Us |