Nepal remains stuck on constitution
Joseph Mayton (BM): KATHMANDU: With three days of nationwide strike seemingly at an end, shops and businesses got back to work on Sunday, but the frustration over the lack of consensus on a new constitution to be finalized by May 27, has many in the country worried that the country is headed in the wrong direction.
“I think we must all look at what is best for the country, and our politicians are not doing it,” said local business owner Ramesh, who recently returned from Singapore to set up a cafe in the popular tourist area Thamel.
“We need a new future for the country and the strikes and fighting are not going to do it,” he added.
Negotiations continued on Saturday in the capital, Kathmandu, but little new came from the discussions between political parties over contentious issues such as federalism and the role of the 103 ethnic groups in the country.
Issues of state-restructuring have been a bone of contention among the major political parties even as the May 27 deadline to promulgate the Constitution is fast approaching.
“Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have been stuck to the idea of eight federal states to be incorporated in the new Constitution against the Maoists’ proposal of 11 states across the country,” Nepali Congress senior leader Bimalendra Nidhi said after the talks on Saturday night.
During bilateral talks between the Maoists and the Nepali Congress, NC reiterated its support that the states should not be more than eight as it would not be economically viable, he said.
The Nepali Congress is also against naming the states on the basis of ethnicity. A mixed formula should be adopted while naming the states, Nidhi said.
But the Maoists have been pushing for more states in order to enable and empower more ethnic groups in the country, which over the past two weeks has become a sticking point between the political parties.
On Saturday, the three-party meeting was scheduled to take place between the Maoists, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML in an effort to forge consensus on key issues.
The UCP-Maoist and the Joint Democratic Madhesi Front (the five-party alliance), have floated the idea of 11 states with names of the states based on ethnicity.
“Rather than ethnic capacity, economic viability should be taken into account while dividing states,” Nidhi said.
Besides state restructuring, forms of governance are another key subject which needs to be settled among the major political parties before promulgating the Constitution.
For now, despite the hope on the streets of the country, many are beginning to worry that the final constitution will do little to alleviate the political impasses that have come to be the norm in Nepal over the past few years.