Nepals' constitution expected to be approved Monday evening

KATHMANDU, Nepal (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) - Nepal is inching closer to having a new constitution as the Constituent Assembly endorsed the first three articles of the new charter on Sunday evening.

After years of disagreements between the main political parties, the country is inching closer to having a new constitution as the Constituent Assembly (CA) endorsed first three articles of the new charter on Sunday evening.

Out of 598 CA members, 540 participated in the CA process while 58 from the Madhes-based parties boycotted it.

The CA endorsed article 1, 2 and 3 of draft constitution on Sunday. The voting process on the remaining articles will continue on Monday in the CA session that resumes at 11am.

The draft constitution has 37 parts, 302 articles and 9 annexes. All the articles and annexes are required to be endorsed by two-thirds of the CA members present in the Assembly, according to article 70 of the Interim Constitution.

The rapid voting on draft constitution was made possible when a majority of 54 amendment proposals were withdrawn following party directives to Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, UCPN (Maoist) CA members.

Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party, Rastriya Janamorcha, Pariwal Dal and Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, however, refused to withdraw amendment proposals.

The voting process began at the CA after the informal talks with Madhes-based parties and Tharu parties/groups on Saturday and Sunday did not produce any positive outcomes. It was preceded by addresses by top leaders of the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) in the first session.

CA chairman Subas Nembang began the voting process after Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Krishna Sitaula tabled the proposal for the clause-wise voting on the draft constitution and amendments.

“We have achieved a historic success in the constitution drafting process because it has ensured a new constitution. It has sent out a message that parties come together at times of crisis,” Nembang said.

As there were no amendment proposals related to article 1 and 2, Nembang proposed those articles for the endorsement.

According to sources, the new constitution could be promulgated within a week from CA endorsement. During the period, CA members will put final signature on the bill following which the CA chairman will authenticate it.

Article one of the constitution comprises definition of state, constitution as a fundamental laws, national interest, language of nation, language of official transaction, national flag and national anthem. There were no amendment proposals against the article.

Article two deals with citizenship. Despite criticism that the provision on citizenship discriminates against women, there were no amendment proposals on this article either.

Article three, which deals with the fundamental rights and duties, had some amendment proposals, but none of them could get CA approval.

All the Madhes-based parties boycotted the voting process. The Madhesi and Tharu parties have 58 members in the CA. One member remains suspended. Similarly, Maoist CA member Prabhu Sah also boycotted the CA process.