Oli, Dahal initiate process of building consensus on citizenship bill

Kathmandu, February 25

The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has initiated the process of framing a common view on provisions incorporated in the Nepal Citizenship Bill, with the two party co-chairs, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, calling a meeting today to build consensus on all sticking points in the legislative document, which has been registered in the Parliament.

The meeting, held at the PM’s residence in Baluwatar, was attended by Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, Law Minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal and parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee Chairperson Sashi Shrestha.

The meeting tried to find ways to narrow down differences among lawmakers of the ruling NCP on provisions of the bill, sources told THT. Earlier, Shrestha had called numerous meetings to build consensus on the content of the bill, but she was not successful. “Once there is common view among NCP lawmakers, Shrestha can intensify consultation with other political leaders and lawmakers to resolve disputed issues,” a source said.

If consensus is built, the bill could be passed from the House of Representatives immediately.

The bill would have easily gone through the House of Representatives had there not been a few sticking points. A provision in the bill, for example, states that children of Nepali women married to foreign men or male non-resident Nepalis would get naturalised citizenship.

Some of the lawmakers are demanding that children of Nepali women married to foreign men or male non-resident Nepalis be given citizenship by descent. Others object to this proposal stating that it goes against the constitutional provision. Many of those in support of the proposal are now demanding that the process be simplified for children born through Nepali mother and foreign father to get naturalised citizenship. Some of the lawmakers are also demanding that the process of acquiring Nepal’s naturalised citizenship be simplified for foreign men or women marrying Nepali women or men.

“These are major bones of contention that need to be resolved,” said Shrestha.

If these problems are not resolved, the government can withdraw the bill from the Parliament. But the government is not in a mood to do so.

“The bill was forwarded to the Parliament during the last session. So, the government is not in favour of delaying its passage,” Law Minister Dhakal said. “We should try to fine-tune it by holding rigorous consultation with political parties and lawmakers. There should be national consensus on issues such as these,” he said.