Statute amendment after local polls: PM

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jun 10, 2017-

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has made it clear that an amendment to the constitution as demanded by the Madhes-based parties will happen only after the second phase of local polls scheduled for June 28.

Addressing a meeting of Parliament on Friday, his first after being elected the prime minister, Deuba said he does not see the possibility of amending the constitution before the upcoming vote. He, however, argued that resolving the issues raised by the agitating parties was important to broaden ownership of the new constitution.

But the newly united Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, which voted for Deuba’s election, responded that it was impossible for it to join the elections without fulfilment of the demands including constitutional amendment.

“We are not going to participate in the polls,” RJP-N leader Mahendra Raya Yadav told the House, without “amendment to the constitution, treatment for those who were injured during the Madhes movement, relief for the families of those killed during the protests and martyr status for the slain”.

Yadav said his party had difficulty in participating in the elections as the government had repeatedly ignored their demands and their cadres were still in jail. 

The government does not have the two-thirds majority required to pass the statute amendment bill tabled in Parliament. It requires the support of the main opposition CPN-UML or fringe party and independent lawmakers, mustering which would take time and effort.

“Unfortunately, we can’t endorse the constitution amendment bill at the moment as the second phase of local level polls is approaching,” said PM Deuba, responding to lawmakers’ questions.

He urged the regional parties not to doubt his commitment to constitution amendment and to support the government in holding the elections successfully. He said there was a slim chance of increasing the number local federal units at this time as the Supreme Court has stayed the decision of the earlier Cabinet to do so.

Deuba hoped that the opposition would also cooperate with the government in addressing the demands of the protesting parties.

The prime minister said that his government would hold the three tiers of elections by January next year. He praised his predecessor Pushpa Kamal Dahal for creating an environment for addressing the demands of the Madhesi people. Ahead of Deuba’s election, both Deuba and Dahal signed a three-point agreement with the Madhes-based parties.

“We want to join the polls ... but the government should prepare the ground for it. The amendment proposal should be forwarded before the vote,” said Sarbendra Nath Shukla, another RJP-N leader, warning of protests if the government failed to heed the call.

Published: 10-06-2017 07:41

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