Nepal’s parliament approves first amendment to new constitution

Kathmandu, Jan 24 (IANS) Nepal’s parliament has voted to amend the country’s new constitution after its promulgation four months ago, on Saturday night.

Speaker of the parliament Onsari Gharti Magar announced endorsement of the first amendment to the Constitution of Nepal at a house session in Kathmandu, Xinhua reported.

Three articles of the Constitution — Article 42, Article 84 and Article 286 — were amended aimed at addressing 11-point demands raised by the Madhesi parties.

Two-thirds majority of the 601-member parliament endorsed the bill on the first amendment of the new constitution in view of addressing the key demands of the Madhesi parties who have been running anti-constitution protests in the Terai region of Nepal bordering India for the past four months.

When put to vote, the bill garnered 468 votes while seven lawmakers voted against it.

The amendment has ensured higher representation in the government bodies on the basis of proportional inclusion of the Madhesis, as well as other marginalised communities.

However, the lawmakers of agitating Madhesi parties have shunned the voting saying the constitution amendment failed to address their core demand of fresh demarcation of provincial boundaries.

Lawmakers from Madhesi parties walked out from the house when the lawmakers voted for the Constitution Amendment Bill.

Over 50 protesters including 10 police personnel were killed in the violent clashes during the agitation launched by the Madhesi parties.

Madhesi fringe parties, under the banner of the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), will continue the protests against the constitution, leaders said.

A prominent leader of the agitating Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party Sarbendra Nath Sukla said they will continue protests against the constitution since their demands were not addressed by the first amendment.

In an effort to resolve the prevailing unrest in the Madhes region, major political parties had tabled a bill a month ago to amend the constitution and increase the Madhesi presence in government bodies through proportional representation.

Nepal issued the new constitution on September 20 last year after it became secular republic in 2008 with the overthrow of the 240-year Monarchy.

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