Govt move cuts no ice, Morcha ‘to turn up heat’

  • constitution amendment
- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu
The bill is against the spirit of the past agreements and understandings and it fails to address Morcha’s fundamental demands including those related to provincial boundaries. So we reject it madhesi morcha

Apr 13, 2017-A day after the government introduced a new constitution amendment bill, after withdrawing the old one that was in Parliament since January 8, the agitating Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) on Wednesday said the new proposal “is not acceptable to us”.

Stating that the new amendment bill is against the spirit of the past agreements and understandings, the Morcha has said it fails to address the Morcha’s fundamental demands including those related to provincial boundaries, hence “the Morcha rejects the proposal”.

A revised constitution amendment proposal, which seeks to amend the constitution to address Morcha’s demands except the one related to provincial boundary, was registered at the Parliament Secretariat on Tuesday. As per the new proposal, boundary issues will be settled through a federal commission. But Morcha leaders said that the government had betrayed them by withdrawing the provision of proportional representation in the federal commission and changed the provision on naturalised citizenship.

The previous amendment bill sought to change Article 11 (6) with “a foreign woman who has a matrimonial relationship with a citizen of Nepal may acquire naturalised citizenship as per the provincial law after she initiates the process of relinquishing her earlier citizenship”.  

But in the new proposal the “provincial law” has been changed to “federal law”.

Taking exception to the new amendment bill, the Morcha, an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, has maintained that its protests will continue until the constitution is amended in line with its demands. 

“The Morcha will not take part in elections as they have been planned at a time when we are in protest,” the Morcha said in a statement issued after its meeting in Kathmandu. 

“The amendment bill is a far cry from what was agreed with us earlier,” said Sarbendranath Shukla, general secretary of the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party, adding that it was a mistake on the part of the government to withdraw the previous amendment bill. “It would have been justifiable had the government withdrawn the bill after the commission submitted its report,” he said. 

Morcha’s refusal to accept the new proposal may complicate the matters further, especially when there is just about a month left for local level elections. 

The Morcha on Tuesday itself had objected to the government move of withdrawing the earlier constitution amendment bill. 

The CPN-UML, which had opposed the previous amendment bill, has termed the move of withdrawing it from Parliament “positive”. It though has stopped short of welcoming the new amendment bill, it has not objected to it either.

Some Morcha leaders, however, did not rule out the possibility of an agreement. There is still room for agreement if the government agrees to correct its “mistakes”, said a Morcha leader. Once the bill enters Parliament, lawmakers can register their amendments. The Morcha leader said the agitating parties and the government can make use of that opportunity to reach an agreement. 

Others, however, seemed to be in a bid to return the ball to the UML’s court, saying the agitating parties can reconsider their decision if the main opposition agrees to the bill. Earlier, the UML had been seeking Morcha’s commitment to polls if negotiations to break the deadlock were to be moved forward. 

The Morcha has announced protests in district headquarters on Thursday and plans to picket district election offices on Sunday. 

Later on Wednesday, a meeting of the Sanghiya Gathabandhan also decided to continue protests, saying the fresh amendment bill does not address its concerns. 

Published: 13-04-2017 07:48

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