Issue over Lamichhane’s citizenship gets complexElection Commission unlikely to decide on the matter before the voting day.
The office of the Chief Electoral Officer in Chitwan has asked Rastriya Swatantra Party chief Rabi Lamichhane to clarify over the complaint that he did not relinquish his Nepali citizenship even after receiving the citizenship certificate of another country.
A complaint was lodged at the Election Commission on Tuesday seeking to scrap Lamichhane’s candidacy from Chitwan-2 claiming that the copy of the citizenship that he had submitted while filing his candidacy was not valid.
“We handed over a letter to a representative of Lamichhane today (Wednesday),” Ritendra Thapa, chief electoral officer in the district, told the Post. “He has up to a week to respond.”
Thapa said his office will forward the clarification to the Election Commission, which would take a decision on the complaint. The commission has another week to decide on the matter.
“I don’t think any decision on the matter is possible before the polling day,” said Thapa. The country votes to elect the members of the House of Representative and seven provincial assemblies on Sunday.
Deepak Bohara, a leader of Rastriya Swatantra Party who received the letter for clarification on behalf of Lamichhane, claimed the latter’s citizenship was genuine and the issue was raised a few days before vote just to defame his party and its president.
He claimed that Lamichhane had renounced his American citizenship and its proof was submitted to the Immigration Department to revive his older citizenship. However, he failed to say whether or not Lamichhane has reacquired the Nepali citizenship. As per Section 10 of the Citizenship Act, any person who acquires the citizenship of a foreign country automatically loses Nepali citizenship.
The Act, however, has a provision for reclaiming the Nepali citizenship after one renounces the foreign citizenship.
Section 11 of the Citizenship Act says if any citizen of Nepal who has acquired foreign citizenship returns to reside in Nepal and submits a notification to the designated authority the evidence of renunciation of foreign citizenship, his/her Nepali citizenship shall be provided again once she/he submit the evidence of renunciation.
An application needs to be submitted to the respective office to reclaim the Nepali citizenship.
Clause 11 of the regulation to the Act says the person who has renounced the foreign citizenship should apply to the Ministry of Home Affairs or the concerned District Administration Office. The concerned authority, after studying the application, would issue the citizenship of Nepal containing the same details mentioned in the previous document.
If the claim of the Chitwan District Election Office is anything to go by, Lamichhane doesn’t seem to have produced the citizenship he acquired after renunciation of his American citizenship. Thapa said the copy of the citizenship he had produced to file the nomination was issued in 1993. That means it is the same citizenship that he had acquired before moving to the United States of America.
Officials at the Ministry of Home Affairs say the citizenship one acquires after renouncing the foreign citizenship is completely different from the one taken beforehand. “The new citizenship is counted from the date it was issued after renunciation of the foreign citizenship,” Lila Kumari KC, an under-secretary at the Home Ministry, told the Post.
The Election Commission is yet to study the complaints against Lamichhane. “We will study the case only after the District Election Office writes to us after receiving the clarification from Lamichhane,” Yagya Bhattarai, a joint-secretary at the Legal Department at the commission, told the Post.