CA passes new ConstitutionIn what was a historic and momentous day, the Constituent Assembly (CA) on Wednesday endorsed Nepal’s Constitution 2015 by more than two-thirds majority,
In what was a historic and momentous day, the Constituent Assembly (CA) on Wednesday endorsed Nepal’s Constitution 2015 by more than two-thirds majority, turning Nepal into a federal democratic republic. This is the first time in country’s history that a constitution has been written by the elected representatives of the people.
The finalisation of the new constitution also completes another major milestone agreed as part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2006 that ended the 10-year-long violent conflict.
UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, a signatory to the CPA, described the occasion as a victory of the people and nation. “We have endorsed a federal democratic republican country and this is no ordinary event,” said Dahal, promising to address concerns of the agitating Madhesi and Tharu parties through subsequent constitution amendments.
The new constitution will come into force soon after President Ram Baran Yadav promulgates it amid a ceremony in the CA hall at 5pm on Sunday. The government has already declared Sunday and Monday as public holidays for nation-wide celebrations.
A final draft of constitution tabled by Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) Chairman Krishna Prasad Sitaula was endorsed by an overwhelming majority in the House soon after the completion of clause-wise voting that lasted for four days.
Out of 598 CA members, 532 CA members were present in the voting process. Out of them 507 CA members voted in favour of the constitution, with 25 going against it. All the Madhes-based parties with a combined strength of 58 CA members boycotted the CA process, while the pro-Hindu Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal voted against the new constitution.
The endorsement of new constitution has turned the six-decade-old dream of drafting a new constitution through an elected body into a reality. Though Nepal has already written six constitutions since 1950s, this is the first one written by an elected body.
Republicanism, federalism, secularism, inclusive and proportional representation of oppressed and marginalised community and policies of social justice are key features of constitution.
The announcement of constitution’s endorsement by CA Chairman Subas Nembang sparked scenes of jubilation inside the Assembly hall. The lawmakers were seen shaking hands and hugging each other in celebration.
Wednesday’s meeting was their penultimate meeting in capacity of CA members as the Assembly will be automatically dissolved after the promulgation of constitution on Sunday as per the provision in the Interim Constitution. The CA will be transformed into Parliament till the next general election as per the provisions of the new constitution.
Stepping out of the CA hall, top leaders of the major parties—Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist)—could hardly hide their smile.
Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli and UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Dahal said it is a moment of pride, calling Wednesday’s event as the happiest day of their political career.
“I’m very happy that the long-awaited dram of people has been materialised. It will pave the way for the development and economic prosperity of the country,” he said.
UML Chairman Oli said he was pleased to see the CA deliver the new charter after overcoming some confusions and uncertainty.
A cross-party committee has been formed under Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee head Baburam Bhattarai to fine tune and rearrange the articles of the new constitution.
The committee will have to complete the task by Thursday evening. After that, all the CA members will put their final signature in the draft constitution and the CA chair will authenticate it as per the CA Rules of Procedures. President will then unveil the constitution.
The constitution has been endorsed 20 months after the second CA election held in November 2013. The first CA failed to deliver a constitution due to wrangling and lack of trust among the major parties.
The parties agreed a 16-point deal on June 8 this year which laid the foundation of the new constitution. The Madhesi-based parties and Tharus have been outside the constitution drafting process and protesting against the demarcation since a month. The protests have claimed more than 40 lives.