Political deadlock in Nepal over Madhesi issue

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Kathmandu, Jun 29: Contradictions continued to prevail among the constituents of the ruling Seven-Party Alliance (SPA) in the Himalayan republic regarding granting autonomy to the Madhes region and their group entry into the Nepalese army resulting in the stalling of Constituent Assembly (CA) meeting. The differences over the issue led to stalemate in the CA for second consecutive day with two of the three parties, the CPN-Maoist and the Nepali Congress (NC) in favour of the Madhes proposals while the CPN-UML expressing certain reservations.

''We can make a political commitment to address the issues in the new constitution but we can never make these issues part of the interim constitution,'' UML General Secretary Jhala Nath Khanal was quoted as saying by Kantipur, while strongly opposing the Madhes region clause's inclusion in the interim constitution.

CPN (Maoist) was positive towards the Madhesi parties' demands. It wanted to mention the wording ''Madhes autonomous region'' in the directive principles of state policy or somewhere else to address the Madhesi political parties' concerns and ensure smooth functioning of the CA.

Nepali Congress also backed the Madhesi parties' demand along with the Maoists saying it was a commitment by the big three ruling parties.

''Since Prime Minister Koirala signed it in the presence of Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and erstwhile UML General Secretary Madhav Nepal, it is commitment of the government,'' NC General Secretary Bimalendra Nidhi adding ''So we are compelled to implement it.'' During the SPA meeting held at the Prime Minister's residence in Baluwatar here, three small leftist parties said they had opposed the concept the very day after the government signed the relevent agreement with the Madhesi parties.

''We had already opposed the process of signing the agreement as well as its content and cannot take it as an agreement of the SPA with the Madhesi parties,'' CPN-ML leader CP Mainali said.

The three leftist parties comprising CPN-ML, People's Front Nepal (PFN) and Nepal Workers' and Peasants' Party (NWPP) have expressed strong reservations over the agreement and said a Madhes autonomous region clearly implies a single region comprising 20 districts in the southern plains that will lead to denial of rights to certain indigenous region.

Madhes autonomous region clearly implies a single region, so it is an attack against other indigenous groups and Group entry in the army means either dissolution of the national army or unaffordable massive recruitment, the three leftist parties said.

UNI

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