Indigenous leaders flay draft

KATHMANDU: Speakers at a programme have complained that the first draft of the new constitution tabled in the Constituent Assembly for discussion has failed to fully address the rights of the indigenous nationalities.

Chairman of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities Nagendra Kumal argued that machinations were underway to bring the constitution that is not in line with the international conventions on the rights of the indigenous people.

At the 14th meeting of the council of the National Foundation for the Upliftment of the Indigenous Nationalities, former chairman of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities Raj Kumar Lekhi said that thousands of indigenous people from the hill, mountain and southern plains were unaware of the Foundation’s activities.

Similarly, Vice-Chairman of the Federal Socialist Forum, Rakam Chemjong said that, the rights of the indigenous nationalities were seized by putting an end to the federalism with identity.

Chairperson of the National Indigenous Nationality Women’s Federation Shanti Jirel complained that the post-disaster needs assessment prepared by the National Planning Commission has not addressed the issues of the indigenous people.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Prakash Man Singh who was chairing the council meeting said the struggle for the additional rights could be kept on by institutionalizing the rights achieved so far.

Singh said the draft constitution could be made univocal by holding discussions on various levels.

Nepali Congress leader IP Gurung said although the present CA had more than 180 people from the indigenous community, their presence/role was meaningless.

CPN-UML Secretary Bhim Acharya said that the rights could be established by amending the constitution as per the need.

Unified CPN-Maoist Secretary Barsha Man Pun said that struggles could be continued to ensure further rights. But writing the constitution is priority at present, he added.

The Foundation has been conducting research on 18 different ethnic communities. Women rights activists too have criticised the draft constitution, saying the document fails to ensure equal rights.