Nepal amends constitution to address Madhesis’ demands

Kathmandu, Jan 24 (IANS) The Nepal Parliament has approved the first ever amendment to the country’s new constitution to address the agitating Madhesis’ demands for proportionate representation and allocation of seats in parliament on the basis of population.

The amendment proposal was approved on Saturday night by a majority vote amid slogan-shouting by lawmakers of the agitating Madhes-based parties.

As many as 461 of the 468 lawmakers participating in the voting voted in favour of the first constitutional amendment bill while seven voted against.

The Madhesh-based parties, who are agitating in the southern Tarai plains adjoining India after the new constitution came into force on September 20 last year did not participate in the voting.

“Though the step is progressive, it is not enough to meet our demands,” the morcha said in its initial reaction.

Madhesi Morcha leader Upendra Yadav told IANS that the constitutional amendment will not work because they were not consulted.

The leaders of the Madhesis told IANS that they will hold a meeting on Sunday and come up with official position on amendment in constitution undertaken by the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML,UCPN(Maoist) and other fringe parties.

As per the amendment, ethnic clusters in Nepal have been decreased to 15 from earlier 17.

A delineation commission will be formed to determine the boundaries of constituencies for the House of Representatives on the primary basis of population while geography will be a secondary factor.

The Madhes region sprawling from the east to west of southern plains holds over 51 percent of the Nepal population.

At least 60 people were killed in the last five month as the Madhesi Morcha launched the agitation. Nepal faces a severe short supply of essential commodities, fuel and medicines due to blockade of major Nepal-India entry points.

Now, the Nepal government is bracing to take up the Madhesis’ demand for a change in boundaries of the seven provinces.

Nepal’s Constituent Assembly in September 2015 approved the new constitution that split the country into seven federal provinces.

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