Nepal | January 23, 2021

Govt asked to stick to ‘Federal Democratic Republic’

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The State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the Parliament has directed the government not to implement the decision to remove the phrase ‘Federal Democratic Republic’ used ahead ‘of Nepal’ for correspondence and speeches.

The cabinet had, on September 27, decided to remove the ‘Federal Democratic Republic’ and use only the word ‘Nepal’ while officially using the name of the country.

After the decision, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration had on October 20 already circulated notice to all 753 local governments to implement the government order.

The government’s decision was criticised as many saw the decision as aiming to derail the country from the federal democratic republican system as enshrined in the 2015 constitution.

The committee had thus summoned Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to discuss the government’s decision.

However, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali who was present at the meeting on behalf of the PM, defended the decision saying the move was to bring ‘unity’ on the country’s name and to ease communication.

Answering the committee, Gyawali said, “ Our country’s official name is Nepal. There is no need to add any other adjective.” He also said the government did not have any bad intention while taking the decision. The committee’s official informed that Gyawali had stressed that the government had never adopted ‘Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal’ as the official name.

“The constitution also does not mention the country’s name to be so,” Gyawali said.

After the discussion, the committee’s Chair Sashi Shrestha said, “The Cabinet decision of September 27, itself proves that the country’s official name is Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.

Thus, it has asked the government not to implement the decision immediately.”

She also told the government that if it wanted to change the name then this should be tabled at the federal Parliament.

Constitution expert Pankaj Kumar Karna said that although it was true that country’s official name did not have the words ‘Federal Democratic Republic,’ the way in which the government took the decision was incorrect. He further said the decision also drew flak because many lawmakers of the ruling party had often been heard speaking unfavourably about federalism in the country. Karna said, “This provoked suspicion that the government was in the process of losing all the achievements attained after a long struggle.” He added, “Had the government tabled the issue in the Parliament and heard the view of all the representatives, it would have been much better.”

This decision was only about the name, not about the form of governance, he said, adding that efforts to connect it to forms of governance were inappropriate.

“The political system (of the federal democratic republic) can be changed only with an amendment to the constitution backed by twothirds majority lawmakers,” he said.

Ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmakers Bijay Subba and Nawaraj Silwal forwarded a note of dissent asking the committee not to doubt that the government would backtrack on federalism.

A version of this article appears in print on November 10, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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