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People’s constitution

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

President Ram Baran Yadav declares promulgation of Nepal’s new constitution endorsed by Constituent Assembly amidst a special ceremony on Sunday evening. Photo: Bikram Rai

Nepal’s long-cherished dream of writing a new constitution through an elected assembly of people has finally come true.

President Ram Baran Yadav promulgated Nepal’s Constitution 2015 amidst a special ceremony held in the Constituent Assembly (CA) hall, beautifully decorated with national flags, flowers and festoons, on Sunday.

After signing five original copies of the new constitution, President Yadav said: “I hereby declare that Nepal’s new constitution has been promulgated from today.”

The CA, elected by people in November 2013, had endorsed the new constitution by two-thirds majority on Wednesday. CA Chair Subhas Nembang authenticated it on Friday. Of the 598 CA members, as many as 537 have signed the new constitution.

With the promulgation of the new constitution, Nepal has formally become a federal democratic republic. Drafted 37 parts, 308 articles and 9 annexes, the new constitution has created seven federal provinces and recognised Nepal as a secular country.

After passing the new constitution, the CA has been dissolved, and it will remain just as a Legislature Parliament.

Hope and despair

People have celebrated the new constitution by carrying out welcome rallies across the country. They are also lighting lamps to welcome the new constitution. They believe that promulgation of the new constitution is the logical conclusion of the peace process that began with the end of the Maoist war, and they hope that it will bring about stability, peace and prosperity.

But jubilation for the new constitution has been eclipsed by death of one more protester in the Tarai. A man, identified as 30 years old Satrughan Patel, died when police opened fire to contain violence when protesters defied curfew in Birganj on Sunday.

Parts of the Tarai where Madhesi parties have imposed an indefinite general for more than one month now are still tense, with the local administrations clamping curfews and deploying the army in several towns. More than 40 people have lost their lives so far after demarcation of federal provinces.

Madhes-based parties have rejected the new constitution, expressing dissatisfaction with demarcation of federal provinces and election constituencies. They have demanded southern belts of Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari districts as part of their Madhes province stretching between Parsa and Saptari districts.  They have also demanded election constituencies on the basis of their population in the Tarai.

The NC, the UML and the UCPN (M), which have backed the new constitution, claim that most of the issues raised by Madhesi parties have been addressed and federal boundaries will be modified in future. But Madhesi parties are still against the new constitution.

In the east, a joint committee of regional parties and organisations have rejected the new constitution and announced an indefinite strike demanding an autonomous Limbuwan province.

The journey

Nepal had envisioned an elected assembly of people to write the new constitution in the Interim Constitution 1951. But it took Nepal six decades to elect a people’s assembly to write an inclusive and progressive constitution.

After King Mahendra dismissed Nepal’s first elected Prime Minister BP Koirala’s government and imposed party-less Panchayat system in 1962, political parties shifted their priority to restoration of multi-party democracy. But even after multi-party democracy was restored in the wake of the people’s movement 1990, the new constitution was written by a panel an experts and not by people’s representatives.

But the Maoists revived the agenda of Constituent Assembly elections before joining the peace process in 2006. In 2008, the first CA was elected but that failed owing to differences among the parties over federalism, system of governance and judiciary. In November 2013, another CA was elected but differences among the parties persisted.

After the devastating April earthquake, the major parties felt the urgency of the new constitution for expediting reconstruction of the country. They signed a 16-point agreement on 8 June, which became the blueprint for Nepal’s new constitution.

Om Astha Rai






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5 Responses to “People’s constitution”

  1. kg on Says:

    People killing constitution at the cost of ethic cleansing cannot be the reason for celebration but a sign of huge storm in coming days to rewrite the history of Nepal. By the way why this country still goes by the name Nepal and not a more inclusive name.

  2. namah on Says:

    who cares about the name…i want a more inclusive and egalitarian constitution. PERIOD.

  3. Babua on Says:

    Nepal is just fine. What do you want it called??? North Bihar

  4. Ravi Raj Kaur on Says:

    Need explain on tv to my children and yours what is good what can be better and why we celebrate why we protest. As simple as this. Europe has a situation with uncontrollable inflow of families from warzone Syria, the news is sometimes tip of the iceberg. German chancellor welcoming them is only to try prevent neonazis from burning more asylum refugee centres as they do already.
    We must all focus on betterment of all simultaneously and show an attitude to help and understand. I see people upload pictures of celebrations yet they do not know what is better, what is going on like any old festival with a national flag. (Dhahran).
    Boys are puzzled how they get to rupees. They trust these grown ups to do something for their future. The federalism is like a piece of chocolate cake when you need work. Paid work not volunteer.

  5. Napa on Says:

    This is blasphemy! Nepal should be declared a Hindu Nation!!

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