Big 3 register amendment proposal at CA

  • draft constitution
- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu

Sep 6, 2015-

Three major parties have decided to move ahead with seven-province federal model, stating that grievances of Tharu, Madhesi and Janajati constituencies will be addressed through a federal commission after constitution promulgation.

The Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) registered a joint proposal at Constituent Assembly (CA) Secretariat on Saturday to make amendments to the draft constitution after they agreed on some of the pending issues, including secularism, threshold provision.

The top leaders of the three parties gave consent to the proposal after failing to convince Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik (MJF-L) Chairman Bijay Gachhadar for seven-province model.

Following the violent protests in Tikapur, Kalali and eastern Tarai, the parties have engaged in talks to redraw the provinces in a way that could address the concerns of Madhesis, Tharus and Janajatis, but without much headway. Details of demarcation will be finalised by the proposed federal commission which, the three parties say, will address the demands of people. A CA meeting will discuss on the proposal in a couple of days.

The Maoists and MJF-L had proposed redrawing of the seven-province model with two provinces in Madhes to address the concerns of Tharus and Madhesis, but the ruling NC and UML stood firm against the idea.

UCPN (M) Chief Whip Giriraj Mani Pokhrel said the MJF-L decided to pull out of the process, after the meeting. “We are hopeful that he will join us till the date of constitution promulgation,” he said.

The UCPN (Maoist) expressed displeasure at not being able to address grievances of the agitating parties but agreed to push the CA process. Nepali Congress Chief Whip Chinkaji Shrestha said the proposed federal commission could change the current boundaries in order to address the grievances of communities.

In the joint proposal, the three parties have decided to form a Janajati, Muslim, Madhesi and Tharu commission with constitution status to address the protests of parties and groups. The parties have also agreed to retain secularism with an explanation in the annex that there will be religious and cultural freedom to all citizens. After the public consultation on draft constitution, the NC and UML had tirelessly lobbied to remove ‘secularism’ from the new Constitution arguing that it promoted conversion.

The parties have tried to address concerns of their own partymen, fringe parties, the Supreme Court and constitutional bodies in the joint amendment. They have agreed to remove the provision of minimum threshold in the electoral law as criteria to get seats in Parliament. The NC and UML had pushed for three to five percent threshold in the elections but that was opposed by the Maoist, Madhesi and other fringe parties. Instead of a separate Constitutional Court, the parties have agreed to set up a Constitutional Bench at the apex court. Earlier, the parties had agreed to a provision of such court for 10 years. During the public consultation process on draft constitution, the apex court has suggested the major parties to scrap the provisions of Constitutional Court.

According to UML Chief Whip Agni Kharel, the parties have decided to allocate five judges in the Constitution Bench. The provision of temporary judges have been scrapped making the positions of all 21 judges permanent.

Published: 06-09-2015 07:30

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