Amendment process begins to address agitators’ demands
It’s positive move: Madheshi leaders
KATHMANDU, Oct 3: The government has become ready to address two major demands of the agitating Madhes-based parties and Tharu community through constitutional amendments. Just two weeks after the promulgation of the new constitution, the meeting of the Council of Ministers on Friday ordered the Ministry for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to prepare bills on constitutional amendments.
Following a cabinet decision, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala in his address to parliament stated that the amendment process has begun.
"We all have accepted that the rights of representation and participation based on the principle of proportional representation in state bodies will be ensured in this constitution in line with the spirit of the Interim Constitution 2007," the prime minister told parliament.
The major three parties have agreed that the demand regarding delimitation of electoral constituencies on the basis of population after ensuring representation of remote districts of hill and mountains needs to be settled," Koirala added.
The prime minister informed that the issues highlighted during the agitation of indigenous communities, Janajati, Tharu, Madhesi, Muslims and Dalits would be addressed through amendments.
However, Koirala's coalition partner CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) have expressed dissatisfaction over the government decision of starting amendment process arguing that the prime minister and his party took the decision in haste.
According to a source, UML and UCPN (Maoist) are urging the prime minister to start the amendment process only after reaching an agreement with the Madhes-based parties and other agitating forces collectively.
"The constitution cannot be amended without reaching consensus within the three parties and without discussing these amendments with the agitating parties and forces," said UCPN (Maoist) Chief Whip Giriraj Mani Pokharel.
Earlier, the government on Thursday as demanded by the agitating Madhesi parties had decided to release protestors held during the recent agitations except those involved in serious crimes including murder. Likewise, the cabinet had decided to lift curfew and prohibitory orders clamped at various places and stop patrolling by army. It had also decided to provide one million rupees each to the families of those killed during the protests as well as free treatment for those injured.
A three-member talks team formed by the major three parties has been holding informal talks with various leaders of Madhes and Tharuhat for the past few days.
Positive sign: Madhesi leaders
Leaders of Madhes-based parties said the decision by the government to meet their preconditions and begin amendment process are positive sign to settle existing political turmoil.
"Our main demand is related to the delineation of provinces. Although this demand has not been addresed or discussed yet, the parties have agreed to discuss it after the loss of so many lives," said Tarai-Madhes Democratic Party Vice Chairman Hridayash Tripathi.
"We are watching the recent steps of the major three parties carefully. Although these are positive signs for starting political negotiations, the power-sharing dispute among the big parties can still disrupt this process," he added.
Sadbhavana Party General Secretary Manish Suman said the start of amendment process to address two key demands is a positive sign. "We are waiting to see how the government executes its decisions related to our preconditions. United Democratic Madhesi Front will discuss the latest development and take further decisions," said Suman.
"The issue of provincial delineation and our other demands are yet to be addressed. We are hopeful that the major three parties will address all demands," he added.
Talks team meets Tharu leaders
The talks team formed by the major parties met with agitating leaders of Tharuhat Joint Struggle Committee on Friday.
"We urged the talks team to create talks environment by withdrawing cases against our leaders and cadres and providing compensation to the agitating leaders, whose houses were burnt by different groups," said Aman Lal Modi, the spokesperson of the committee.
"We found that the major three parties are positive toward our preconditions and demands," he added.