Nepal at crossroads after passage of new Constitution

Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, right, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist) leader K.P. Oli, centre, and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, left, shake hands after the country’s Constituent Assembly overwhelmingly approved a new Constitution, at Constitution Assembly hall in Kathmandu on Wednesday.  

After a decade of political infighting and violent protests, the long-awaited passage of Nepal’s Constitution should be a reason to celebrate.

But there are also signs that the Himalayan nation’s new political framework could set the stage for prolonged conflict as some ethnic groups are protesting the charter.

Lawmakers passed the Constitution overnight that sets Nepal up as a secular federation of seven States, each with its own legislature.

Some ethnic groups say their concerns about how state borders are defined were ignored, while others want the country restored to a Hindu nation.

Weeks of protests, some of them violent, have left more than 44 people dead, including police officers.

Analyst and former election commissioner Bhoj Raj Pokhrel says Nepal’s future now “depends on how the state acts and reacts”.

Members of the Assembly have been voting on portions of the draft constitution since September 13, 2015. The final vote on the full document was held late Wednesday.

Speaker Subash Nemwang announced the charter was passed by a 507-25 vote. A two-thirds margin was required.

Assembly members burst into applause after the announcement was made.

The Constitution is to be >formally promulgated on September 20, 2015.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 6:25:53 AM |

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