Differences delay final statute draft

- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu

Aug 17, 2015-

Serious differences among four major parties over religion and addressing the concerns of the Tharus and the mid-western people have deadlocked the constitution drafting process.

A meeting of top leaders of major parties failed to sort these issues, affecting the task of preparing the final draft of the constitution. A taskforce formed under the Constitution Drafting Committee, which was supposed to submit its report to the CDC on Sunday, failed to meet the deadline due to the differences.

The taskforce meeting has been deferred till Monday. The CDC will have to submit the final constitution draft as a bill to the Constituent Assembly by Monday. Though the taskforce has incorporated the already agreed agendas, some issues remain unresolved.

The Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, UCPN (Maoist) and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik, signatories to the six-province deal, are divided over addressing the concerns raised by the people in the Mid West and the Tharus.

The UCPN (M) and the MJF-Loktantrik have proposed Surkhet as the provincial capital. Leaders say the chaos in the Mid West could be resolved if there is a political commitment on the provincial capital now. But the NC and the UML say announcing the capitals immediately would create problems.

The MJF-Loktantrik and the UCPN (M) want to address the demands of the Tharus even by splitting the Kailali district. NC senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba and UML leader Bhim Rawal, however, oppose the idea.The differences over 

religion have also become sharp. The ruling NC and UML have proposed removing secularism from the constitution. Speaking to the Post, NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel said there was no need to mention secularism in the charter. It could take a couple of days more to settle the remaining issues, he added.

The UCPN (Maoist), however, has taken a firm stance on secularism saying that it should be preserved as a key achievement of the political movements since 1990.

“Secularism is a huge gain like federalism, republicanism, inclusiveness and proportional representation, which should be institutionalised through the new constitution,” said senior Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai, who chairs the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee of the CA. He cautioned that some forces might be trying to backtrack on the past agreements. The Maoist party has said secularism could be interpreted but it should remain in the statute.

There are also some differences on the provision of citizenship. Though “mother and father” was replaced by “mother or father” for passing on citizenship by descent, there are still complaints of some discriminatory provisions between men and women.

Leaders involved in negotiations said the parties are close to an agreement on not splitting the Rukum and Baglung districts and not subjecting the heads of constitutional bodies to reappointment after constitution promulgation.

If the top leaders agree on the contentious issues, the CDC will come up with its report by Monday and present it to the CA meeting on Tuesday. It is unclear whether the CDC will submit its report without resolving the disputes or will wait for a political agreement.

Published: 17-08-2015 10:58

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