Four Madheshi parties announce fresh agitational programmes in Nepal




Kathmandu: At a time when the process of drafting Nepal’s new constitution has gained momentum, four dissident Madheshi parties announced fresh protest programmes on Friday.

Objecting to the 16-point deal reached among the four major parties on June 8, the four disgruntled Madheshi parties — Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, Nepal Sadbhavana Party, Tarai Madhesh Democratic Party and Tarai Madhes Sadbhavana Party — decided to go for fresh agitation beginning on July 11, Xinhua news ageny reported.

According to a statement issued by an alliance of the four Madhesi parties, the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), on Friday, they would hold a mass assembly in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu on July 12, Xinhua news agency reported.

Ending continuous differences over the past eight years on key contentious issues of the new constitution such as federal system, forms of governance and electoral system, major parties of Nepal struck the 16-point deal on June 8, which had paved the way to ensure the drafting a new constitution.

The four major parties agreed to federate the Himalayan country into eight provinces on the basis of economic viability and identity through the new constitution.

According to the agreement reached among the major parties, the government will form a high-level commission with a six-month mandate to take decisions over demarcation of the federal units. The Madheshi parties have objected to the formation of such a commission stating that this was against the provision of the Interim Constitution.

The protest programmes jointly unveiled by the four parties include showing black flags in public places and holding mass assemblies in Kathmandu and major cities till July 25 across the country.

Last week, the UDMF had burnt the copies of the draft constitution in Kathmandu as part of its first round of protest against the 16-point deal.

The Madheshi parties have been stating that the first draft of the constitution did not resolve the issue of federalism and provision on citizenship mentioned in the first draft was discriminatory for Madheshi people.

“The first draft of the new constitution is against the spirit of the Interim Constitution, past accords and recent ruling of the Supreme Court and aspirations of Madhesis, indigenous nationalities and marginalized communities,” a leader of the alliance, Laxman Lal Karna, told reporters in Kathmandu. He also argued that such a constitution was unacceptable to these communities, including Madheshis.

Earlier, issuing an interim order against the 16-point deal, the Supreme Court of Nepal had said that a new constitution without names and borders of the provinces would be against Articles 138 and 82 of the Interim Constitution. The Madheshi parties are urging the major parties to respect the court’s ruling in line with the Interim Constitution.

Despite strong objection of the Madheshi parties and the interim order of the Nepal’s Supreme Court, the major parties — the Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist and Madheshi Janaadhikar Forum (Democratic) — have geared up for drafting the new constitution.

According to the action plan endorsed by the Constituent Assembly on Thursday to seek public feedback on the preliminary draft of the constitution, lawmakers from various parties are visiting 240 electoral constituencies and 75 districts.