Statute amendment on hold

- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu

Jan 13, 2016-

The constitution amendment process, which was initiated with an aim to address some major concerns of Madhes-based parties, has been put on hold after ongoing negotiations between them and major parties failed to yield any result. 

The meeting of the Legislature-Parliament, where the Constitution Amendment Bill is awaiting a vote, called for Wednesday has been postponed until next week, as parties are yet to decide which of the 24 revisions should be adopted. 

In an attempt to address the demands of the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, an 

alliance of four Madhes-based parties, 103 lawmakers from 10 parties, 

including the Nepali Congress and the UCPN (Maoist), have registered 24 proposals seeking revisions in the bill. 

The parties are waiting for “ownership of the amendments by the Morcha”, which is not possible unless the ongoing negotiations reach a conclusion. 

A House meeting was earlier scheduled for Wednesday’s for clause-wise discussion on the first amendment bill of the Constitution of Nepal and revisions proposals that were registered. But the Parliament Secretariat, after consultations with the whips of various parties, issued a notice on Tuesday, saying the meeting has been postponed till January 19.

Hit Raj Pandey, chief whip of the UCPN (M), said there is an agreement among the parties to wait and see how dialogue progresses. 

The Parliament meeting called on January 5 was put off till Wednesday, after Speaker Onsari Gharti sought a week to spend time with her ailing husband and UCPN (M) Secretary Barsha Man Pun, who receiving treatment for jaundice in Bangkok. Following Tuesday’s development, Gharti, who was scheduled to return on Wednesday, has extended her stay in the Thai capital for a few more days. The parties are hoping for a breakthrough through negotiations before the next Parliament meeting. 

To endorse the constitution amendment, two-thirds majority--394 votes of among 597 lawmakers in Parliament--is required, and for that an agreement among the three major parties is a must.

 Out of 24 revision proposals, amendments sought by NC leaders Bimalendra Nidhi and Farmullha Mansoor, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik (MJF-L), Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Manch (Tharuhat) and Nepali Janata Dal (NJD) address majority of the demands of the Morcha regarding proportional representation in state bodies and allocation of electoral constituencies. 

But in the lack of a deal with the Morcha, the parties are yet to decide which of the amendments they should move forward. 

“The amendments have been sought to address the concerns of Madhesi parties, therefore it will be meaningless to start the amendment process unless they agree to take ownership,” said Yogendra Chaudhary, chief whip of MJF-L.

Published: 13-01-2016 08:37

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