Opposition obstructs Nepal Parliament over constitution amendment bill

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Kathmandu, Dec 1 ( IANS) Nepal’s main opposition party Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist on Thursday obstructed and later boycotted the proceedings of the Legislature-Parliament in protest against the introduction of the constitution amendment bill.

After a year’s hiatus and political standoff, the Nepal government on Tuesday tabled a constitutional amendment bill in Parliament to address the demands and grievances of agitating Madhes-based political parties.

The CPN-UML’s cadres with the support of locals took to the streets in several districts of Nepal against the amendment, particularly in province no 5, mostly in Lumbini Zone that is popularly known as the birth place of Gautam Buddha.

Immediately after the meeting was convened, the CPN-UML lawmakers stood up from their seats in a gesture of dissatisfaction over the move.

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Vice-Chairman of the party Bamdev Gautam claimed that the amendment proposal was against the spirit of the constitution and federalism.

Expressing reservations over the proposed change in demarcation of some federal boundaries, he claimed that Parliament does not hold such rights to make changes in the boundaries of provinces.

If, he said, boundaries of the provinces needed to be changed, it will be done by the Provincial Parliament and not by the central one.

The amendment bill that was introduced in the House, focusing on the issues of language, citizenship and boundaries of provinces, is against the interests of the nation and national integrity, he said.

He added that the bill brought against the principle of federalism has ended the government’s moral right to stay in power.

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The amendment proposal seeks to split some of the districts of the present Province No 5 and incorporate them in Provinces no 4 and 6 in order to create a separate area for the Madhesi population. Provinces no 2 and 6 will have majority population of Madeshis and Tharu, another indigenous community widely settled in Nepal and India.

The path the nation is taking due to the government and the ruling parties’ negligence would end in destruction, he said, asserting that the amendment proposal is not acceptable to the party under any circumstances.

Some fringe parties also supported UML’s position and rallied behind it.

In response to Gautam’s statement, Speaker Onsari Gharti said “An understanding among political parties is the prime need of the hour.”

She called on the CPN-UML lawmakers to take their seats stating that the matter relating to the constitution amendment was not on the agenda. However, the lawmakers refused to sit down and the Speaker then announced the postponement of the meeting.

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