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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The government tabled a constitution amendment bill

The government tabled a constitution amendment bill at the parliament today, seeking to overcome constitutional hurdles to declare Nepal a federal democratic republic and hold an election to the 601-member Constituent Assembly by mid-April.
Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Narendra Bikram Nemwang presented the “Nepal’s Interim Constitution (3rd amendment) Bill 2007” for discussion, expressing the government’s commitment to hold the CA polls by mid-April.
The government has sought amendment in Article 159, to replace “Provisions regarding the King” by “Provisions of the Head of the State.”
The bill is likely to be passed by the House when the interim parliament sits on Friday after clause-wise discussion, party leaders said. When approved by the House, Nepal will be a republic, to be implemented by the first meet of the CA.
But a two-third majority of the existing members of the interim House can declare a republic even earlier if the King creates obstacles in holding the CA polls, according to the 23-point pact reached among the seven-party alliance yesterday.
The government seeks to amend Article 33 (A) of the interim statute. The Article specifies that the “State will focus all its attention to conduct free and impartial election for the members of the CA within December 15.” The amendment proposes to replace “December 15” with “mid-April 2008” in the interim constitution as the deadline for the CA polls.
The amendment has added “two hundred and forty” to replace the “two hundred and five” in the first-past-the-post system.
It has added “three hundred and thirty five” to be elected under the proportional electoral system in clause (b) of Article 63. In clause (c) of Article 63, the amendment has suggested “26 members” to be nominated by the cabinet.
Earlier, RJP chairman Surya Bahadur Thapa during the special House session today criticised the SPA for increasing the CA strength to 601. RPP chairman and MP Pashupati SJB Rana said the statute amendment to declare the nation a “federal democratic republic” is against the people’s wish.
NSP’s Rajendra Mahato termed the coalition government a “criminal” government. UML’s Bharat Mohan Adhikari said the government should abide by the 23-point pact signed yesterday.
NC MP Dr Prakash Saran Mahat said polls should not be put off again.
Maoist MP Dev Gurung expressed concern about the increased CA strength, saying such a huge number of CA members is burdensome for Nepal.

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