Bill tabled in House amid opposition

  • Constitution amendment
- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu
Speaker flouts protest of opposition parties to allow law minister to table bill

Jan 9, 2017-The second amendment to the Constitution of Nepal was tabled in Parliament on Sunday amid commotion from the opposition parties objecting to the bill.

Speaker Onasari Gharti, who had earlier deferred several meetings due to protests from the opposition parties, took the House business ahead, ignoring sloganeering by the nine parties. Parliament was obstructed for more than a month since the amendment bill was registered on November 29.

The government was under pressure from the Madhesi parties to table the bill for discussion. In a three-party meeting held an hour before the House met, the ruling Nepali Congress and the CPN (Maoist Centre) had urged the main opposition CPN-UML to allow the bill to be tabled, respecting a verdict of the Supreme Court.

The UML had responded that it would allow election-related bills to be presented for discussion but would resort to obstruction to bar the constitution amendment bill from landing in the House. The second largest party had hinted that it would, however, not physically obstruct the minister concerned from presenting the bill, which gave the ruling alliance confidence to go ahead with the plan.

The opposition parties voted in favour of sending the impeachment motion against Lokman Singh Karki, the ousted chief of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, to the Impeachment Recom-mendation Committee of Parliament. However, immediately after Speaker Gharti took up the constitution amendment agenda, lawmakers from the nine parties started shouting in protest but this did not deter the Speaker.

She allowed Minister for Law and Justice Ajay Shankar Nayak to table the bill while the opposition continued sloganeering. “The Speaker has worked against the parliamentary practice and democratic principles. This is a shame in the democratic history of Nepal,” UML Vice-chairman Bamdev Gautam told media after the House meeting. “Now our focus will be on stopping the bill’s endorsement.”

In an attempt to address the demands of the Madhes-based parties, the government registered a seven-point constitution amendment bill at the Parliament Secretariat on November 29 last year. It proposes redrawing the boundaries of some provinces, revising the constitution of Upper House and granting citizenship to a foreigner married to a Nepali man after she starts process to denounce citizenship of her country of origin.

The opposition parties have been demonstrating on the streets and in Parliament claiming that the amendment proposal is against “national interests” and that it was presented at the behest of “foreign forces”. The next meeting of Parliament has been scheduled for Monday to start discussion on the bill.

The ruling alliance currently has 324 lawmakers on its side, including those from some Madhes-based parties that are likely to vote for the amendments.

If the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik and the CPN (Samyukta), which have 32 seats in total, vote for amendment, the ruling alliance will still need 40 more votes to prove a two-thirds majority. Even if the governing alliance manages to persuade the Rastriya Prajatantra Party to vote in favour of amendment, it will fall short of three votes. The opposition bloc commands 201 votes.

Published: 09-01-2017 08:30

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