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Four Madheshi parties announce fresh agitational programmes in Nepal

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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.

(IANS)

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Fear of Leprosy Resurgence in Nepal

There are only three staff working in the leprosy section and the same team looks after the disability programme, as well, he told the newspaper

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Leprosy, Wikimedia

Health officials in Nepal fear leprosy resurgence in the country with prevalence rate reaching 0.94 per cent in 2018.

Leprosy-free status was given to the Himalayan nation after it declared elimination of the disease in 2009. However, that status could be lost if prevalence rate reaches one per cent of total population, Kathmandu Post reported on Thursday.

Experts already fear that this marks the resurgence of the disease in Nepal. The percentage could be more, an official said, as the current given figures have been derived just from preliminary data.

The Leprosy Control and Disability (LCD) section of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) of Department of Health Services said that the prevalence rate was 0.92 and 0.89 in 2017 and 2016, respectively, the news report said.

“It will be a great setback for the country if it loses the status,” said Rabindra Baskota, a doctor and chief of the LCD section.

Incubation period of leprosy varies from one to 20 years and diagnosis of more patients could help stop the further spread of the disease, according to him.

An amputated leg, claw toes and claw hands of leprosy patient Gopal Bag are seen at the Leprosy Mission Trust India hospital. Kolkata. VOA

“It will take only a couple of years to reach one percent if this upward trend continues,” he added.

The prevalence rate is over one per cent in various districts of the Tarai region, Baskota said, adding that the country had received the leprosy eliminated status, after reducing its prevalence rate by 0.77 per cent, in 2009.

Sishir Silwal, a focal person for the leprosy control programme in Gulmi district, said regular review meetings for leprosy, which should be held every four months, has not been held for the last eight months.

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Kathmandu Post quoted Bibek Kumar Lal, Director at EDCD, as saying that there is a severe crunch in manpower that hinders proper functioning.

There are only three staff working in the leprosy section and the same team looks after the disability programme, as well, he told the newspaper.

Leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, is transmitted through nasal secretion or from droplets from the mouth. It affects the skin, peripheral nerves and eyes, leading to disfigurement and nerve damage. The disease is curable with a multi-drug therapy. (IANS)