Nepal | July 05, 2020

Welcoming new Constitution

Now, its execution

Birendra P Mishra
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After its promulgation, countries started welcoming it one after another. India has extended its best wishes to the people on the promulgation of the new Constitution and requested resolution of all problems amicably

Reading ConstitutionNepal got its new Constitution on September 20, 2015 after President Dr. Rambaran Yadav signed and promulgated it. He saluted the Constitution as it has fulfilled the decades-old aspiration of the people to have it through a duly elected Constituent Assembly (CA)-2, which has been elected after the dissolution of the CA-1. The CA-2 was elected in 2013 November through the executive order of the President on which the Interim Constitution was silent. After its promulgation, countries started welcoming it one after another. Minutes after the promulgation, the Ministry of External Affairs of India issued a statement stating, “We note the promulgation in Nepal today of a Constitution, India has been supportive of a federal democratic republic and inclusive constitution in Nepal throughout. We extend our best wishes to the people of Nepal. We are concerned that the situation in several parts of the country bordering India continues to be violent.” It also called to resolve all outstanding issues and differences through dialogue in an ambiance free from violence and intimidation.

After its promulgation, Germany, France, Norway, Switzerland, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, have also congratulated Nepal on the occasion. Notably, US State Department spokesperson John Kirby hailed it as an important milestone in Nepal’s democratic journey, and called on all Nepalis to continue to engage in the democratic process through peaceful, non-violent means and urged Nepali security forces to exercise restraint as people express those democratic rights. He also urged the government to continue to accommodate the views of all Nepalis. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei said, “Beijing sincerely congratulates Nepal on promulgating the new Constitution, and hopes that Nepal would take this opportunity to realize national unity, stability and development.” He hoped that the violent unrest which had erupted in the Tarai region would be resolved through dialogue between the demonstrators and the government, and that the inclusion of all ethnic communities would be continued.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commended the Nepali people on the adoption of the new Constitution by hailing it as a milestone in the peace process. Through a note issued by his spokesperson, the Secretary General reiterated the importance of non-violence and respect for peaceful protests in Nepal. Britain has welcomed it and its State Minister for Foreign Affairs has in his message, hailed it as ”a milestone for both the government and people of Nepal”, and has also expressed his hope that the remaining issues with the agitating Madhesi forces and other indigenous groups would be resolved soon through dialogue and flexibility from all sides. Dy. PM Prakash Man Singh has succeeded in obtaining more good wishes from President Obama, UN Secretary General, Bhutan’s PM and many other leaders whom he met during his stay in the US. Lately, Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong has also congratulated Nepal.

India has extended its best wishes to the people on the promulgation of the new Constitution and requested to resolve all problems amicably. However, it has yet to send a message of congratulation. Interestingly, almost all big countries have expressed their concerns over the agitation going on in the Tarai region against the adoption of the Constitution.

The Constitution was adopted with 507 votes out of 601 members, which comes to about 84.3 per cent of the seats, whereas, in terms of popular votes, it had the support of 6.8 million under First-Past-the Post (FPtP) and 7.2 million votes under Proportional Representation (PR). In the election, about 9.5 million votes were cast. In 2013, the total population was estimated at about 29 million against the last census report (2011) of 2,64,94,504 population, out of which only 12 million people were registered as voters. Sadly; about 19 million people, who remained unconnected with the process of representation, saliently question the mandate of the CA, which left them behind the entire process.

The three major parties who have joined hands together had secured about 6.8 million votes under FPtP and about 6 million votes under PR, have 471 seats covering about 79 per cent of seats. Actually, the electoral system was responsible for the disproportional representation, which helped develop a psychology of a giver who could give their own constitution to those, who were in the minority and in the status of a receiver. Moreover, the dissenting groups in every party were not allowed to deliberate freely on crucial issues. They had to obey the undeclared whip of the parties.   Some of them had to withdraw their amendment motions. Ironically, the newly born Constitution that required amendments before it was promulgated has registered amendments and agitations are continuing against it.

Instead of executing the new Constitution, the major parties are engaged in sharing the seats of power, and contesting elections, even as a new prime minister has already been sworn in, which may, very likely, delay the patching up work with the agitating parties and also the implementation of the new Constitution. As a result, it may water down the people’s aspiration of getting a duly elected federal government along with provincial and local governments on time.

A version of this article appears in print on October 16, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.

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