Meet the deadline

The constitution will be further delayed if the parties start negotiations afresh on issues of boundaries of the federal units

The Constitutional Political-Dialogue and Consensus Committee (CPDCC) headed by Baburam Bhattarai held its first meeting after receiving a report of the Committee on Citizen Relations and Public Opinion Collection on the public feedback on the draft constitution. The CPDCC has formed a high-level taskforce comprising top leaders of the major political parties with a view to accommodating feedback from the public and various state organs, including the Supreme Court, constitutional bodies, Nepali Army, Police and others. The leaders of the four major parties who reached a 16-point agreement have already agreed to deliver the new constitution by August 17. Keeping this in mind, the Constituent Assembly has also decided to cut short some of the CA rules so that the new constitution can be promulgated by the deadline set by the major parties. The CA members will be given two days’ time to register amendment proposals on the Bill of the new constitution. According to the plan, the Bill on the new constitution will be discussed for four days before tabling it for endorsement by a two-thirds majority of the CA.

The CPDCC which has been tasked with accommodating the feedback from the public and various state organs will send the agreed upon issues to the Drafting Committee while the disputed issues will be further discussed by the top leaders till the very last moment. Direct election of the chief executive, removal of the PR system, age limit and fixed tenure for holding the public posts, certain level of educational qualification to be eligible to contest parliamentary election, religious freedom instead of ‘secularism’ are some of the key suggestions given by the people. The leaders have already maintained that the public opinion cannot be treated as a ‘referendum,’ meaning that they cannot go beyond the 16-point agreement that has agreed on a reformed parliamentary system. Some of the suggestions, can be included in the constitution.

In this backdrop, one of the major challenges for the major parties who command more than a two-third majority in the 601-member CA is to bring the dissident Madhes-centric fringe parties on board the constitution-drafting process. Their major demand is that the boundaries of the proposed eight federal units be finalized by the CA itself, not by the transformed-Parliament, as mooted by the major parties. Top leaders of the major parties are in parleys with the dissident groups and trying to convince them that they are fully committed to federalism. In this context, the disgruntled forces must give the major parties the benefit of a doubt. What the Madhes-centric parties must understand is that the presidential and National Assembly elections cannot be held without holding elections of the Pradesh Assembly, as well as the local bodies. In order to hold their elections it is prerequisite to fix boundaries acceptable to all the parties. The ongoing process of drafting the new constitution will be further delayed by several months or even years if the parties start negotiations afresh on issues of boundaries of the federal units. It is, therefore, wise to leave the matter for the proposed federal commission to decide.


Save the tigers

The population of tigers, an endangered species, is slowly growing in the world, and in Nepal again. Just a century ago the world population of tigers numbered more than 100,000 but it has dwindled to an estimated 3,200 now. Tigers are under threat largely due to the destruction of their habitat and also poaching for their body parts. Rapid destruction of pulp, paper and palm oil plantations and their ever-increasing demand have wrought havoc on the tiger population. These are relevant concerns as the fifth World Tiger Day was observed in the capital city Wednesday with a focus on generating awareness about their conservation.

Nepal has made a commitment to increase the population of tigers in a steady manner. In this regard, Nepal has done well for the tiger population which was put at 121 in 2010 in the country which increased to 198 in 2013. Nepal has set a target to boost the tiger population to 250 by the year 2022. The road ahead to protect the wild cat population is not easy. The pressing need now is to restore their habitat and halt poaching.

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