CA endorses statute draft

  • Public consultation for two weeks from tomorrow
- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu
CA endorses statute draft

Jul 7, 2015-

After weeklong deliberations, the Constituent Assembly on Tuesday endorsed the preliminary draft of the constitution, clearing the way for public consultation on the statute blueprint.

The CA meeting endorsed the draft amid protests by the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal and four Madhes-based parties. The Committee on Citizen Relations and Public Opinion Collection has got 15 days beginning Thursday to gather people’s views on the draft and submit its report to the Assembly.

CA members and Secretariat staff will visit 240 electoral constituencies and 75 districts to seek people’s feedback on the draft. The document will be disseminated through newspapers, radios and other mass media. The draft will also be published in the Nepal Gazette. The committee will present a report incorporating suggestions from the people and other stakeholders.

CA members from the ruling and opposition parties, forces outside the CA and people from various walks of life have expressed reservations over numerous provisions of the draft. All the views will be forwarded to the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee of the CA for discussion. The PDCC chaired by UCPN (Maoist) leader Baburam Bhattarai will try to incorporate the views.

The PDCC will forward the draft to the Constitution Drafting Committee for final touches. The CDC will submit the final draft as a bill in the CA. Lawmakers will then be able to register their amendment proposals on the draft and there will be article-wise discussions in the full House.

Provisions on citizenship, women’s rights, inclusion and proportional representation, district structure, press freedom, demarcation of federal units, structure of local bodies and secularism are among the most contentious issues in the draft.

Leaders have said that endorsement of the preliminary draft of the new constitution is a significant achievement. However, Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal, Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party, Sadbhawana Party and Tarai Madhes Sadbhawana Party boycotted deliberations in the CA stating that a constitution that does not decide federalism wholly will be incomplete.

There are also voices inside the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML that the new constitution should be promulgated only after finalising demarcation of states. Major parties have said they will begin discussions for deciding the boundaries of federal units. The tasks of seeking public opinion and discussion on demarcation are said to go simultaneously.

Speaking in the CA on Tuesday, senior NC leader Sher Bahadur Deuba said the tenure of the Assembly should be extended until the demarcation row is settled.

To do this, the Interim Constitution should be amended as it requires CA dissolution after constitution promulgation.

Before endorsement of the draft, CDC Chairman Krishna Prasad Sitaula tried to address the concerns raised by the CA members. On citizenship provisions, Sitaula asked the top leaders to be cautious while deciding the issue as it would have lasting impact. Earlier, NC leader Deuba said the provisions on citizenship are discriminatory.

CA members objected to the continuation of District Development Committees. Sitaula, however, said the DDCs will only have a coordination role. Regarding proportional and inclusive representation of oppressed and marginalised communities, he said there would be amendments. “We have made a flexible and dynamic constitution and it aims to institutionalise the achievements made so far,” said Sitaula.

Speaking in the Assembly, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said no one could now prevent the country from adopting federalism. Hinting at the Supreme Court stay order, he said the parties would not dishonuor the dignity of any institution. UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal remarked that the move is a milestone although the constitution was not as good as his party expected it to be.

Dahal said provisions related to press freedom, citizenship, proportional representation and right to work should be revised while finalising the draft. UML Chairman KP Oli said the constitution addresses the concerns of all parties and stakeholders despite its flaws.

Towards promulgation

- Committee on Citizen Relations and Public Opinion Collection to begin work from Thursday

- Committee to present report to CA in 15 days

- Top leaders to discuss ways to decide state demarcation

- PDCC to take up reservations registered by CA members and other stakeholders

- Deuba proposes continuation of CA until demarcation is decided

Published: 08-07-2015 07:40

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