GPK voices concern over statute draft delay

Kathmandu, November 7:

Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala today underlined the need to draft the new constitution on time to consolidate peace and to avoid “an accident of a different kind”.

Talking to a delegation of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), Koirala said the new constitution and federal model should meet expectations of the people living in the mountains, hills and the Tarai.

“My plan was to get the constitution framed within one-and-a-half years after the Constituent Assembly elections,” Koirala told the FNJ team led by president Dharmendra Jha.

He said unexpected developments came in the way of his plan.

“More than anything else, the country should focus on framing the constitution and restructuring the country along federal lines.”

Koirala said the new statute should not just commit to federalism, but also to civil liberty, judicial independence and freedom of expression.

“Although seven months have passed since the Constituent Assembly elections were held, the process of framing a new constitution has not begun yet,” the FNJ president said, handing over a memorandum to the former Prime Minister.

“The government and the CA members do not seem to be taking the issue of drafting a constitution seriously.”

Though the CA’s major task is to draft the new constitution within two years,

the 25 parties in the CA are yet to reach an agreement on the process of drafting the constitution.

In its memorandum, the FNJ said it wants the “parties representing the CA to forget minor issues and differences of opinion and be ready and responsible to fulfil the mandate the people gave them in the elections.”

“FNJ believes that the constitution-making process has been delayed and requests the parties to be ready to forge a political coalition, reach an agreement on constitution-making and begin the process of framing the constitution at the earliest,” the memorandum stated.

The FNJ, through the memorandum, demanded that press freedom and freedom of expression be enshrined in the new statute, expressing hope that the constitution will prove to be a milestone to make the people fully sovereign.

“The FNJ urges the CA to promptly start the constitution-drafting process and enshrine press freedom and freedom of expression in the statute.”

The journalists’ umbrella body is organising a nationwide programme from

November 5 to 30 to pressure the Constituent Assembly to begin the constitution-writing process at the earliest.