'Locals equate federalism with decentralisation'

KATHMANDU: Nepalis expect their new constitution to provide peace, security, and address their basic needs, a report released here today by Carter Centre, stated.

The report explains that citizens who support federalism tend to associate it with decentralisation of power in the hope of bringing the government closer to the people.

By doing so, they hope that it allows them greater access to the state organs, more accountable decision-making, improved service delivery, and an end to discriminatory practices, and more equitable representation, according to the report.

However, the report said that some citizens raised concerns regarding federalism arguing that it would lead to disintegration of the country and communal violence.

The report released on Monday is based on the most recent findings of Carter Centre.

The observers fielded throughout the country have monitored the post-election peace and constitutional-drafting process since June 2009.

"The concerns raised by citizens underscore the need for accurate and unbiased information about federalism to reach the local level to facilitate informed discussions and debates," said Dr David Pottie, Centre's associate director.

The Centre observers also found that indigenous and marginalised peoples' organisations are increasingly active at the local level, particularly in promoting ethnic-based federalism, which they see as a means for decentralisation, equitable representation, and ending discrimination.

By contrast, national political parties remain largely inactive on constitutional issues at the local level with the exception of the Rastriya Janamorcha and the Unified CPN- Maoist, the report highlighted.

"Regardless of the federal model adopted, citizens and advocacy groups are both clear in their desire for decentralisation and their opposition to the idea of domination by any one particular group within the new federal states," said Pottie.

The Centre further urged the Constituent Assembly members and organisations that provide it with financial or technical assistance to conduct an impartial and accurate awareness campaign about federalism at the local level and widely publicise it to inform citizens of the progress being made on writing the constitution.

"People are interested to know how the new constitution will impact their daily lives and whether it incorporates lessons learned from the previous outreach programme," it said, urging the government to engage in dialogue with indigenous and marginalised groups in order for them to use peaceful and democratic means to raise their demands.