Plains-based parties reject Nepal’s new constitution


Political leaders in Nepal’s southern plain regions rejected the new constitution Thursday, saying they had hoped for a clearer recognition of the region’s ethnic autonomy.

The Samyukta Lokatantrik Madheshi Morcha party would mark the text’s proclamation on Sunday as a “black day,” its leader Rajendra Mahato told a press conference in the south-eastern city of Janakpur.

The constitution had rejected the identity and rights of the people of Madhesh, as the plains are known, he said.

Copies of the text would be burned in the southern-plains in protest on Sunday, he warned.

The region was tense on Thursday as authorities expected further clashes.

The latest draft text was endorsed by majority in the Constituent Assembly late Wednesday.

It is Nepal’s first constitution to be written by elected representatives, after the previous six were drafted by panels of crown-appointed experts.

Drawing up a new charter was one of the clauses of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord that ended the decade-long Maoist insurgency and paved the way for the former rebels to join politics.

More than 17,000 people died in the conflict.

In the most contentious clause of the document, the text divides Nepal into seven federal states.

The divisions and have drawn protests in the southern plains, where people want a model that ensures their ethnic groups greater autonomy.

Nearly 40 people were killed in the past month of clashes, including policemen and minors. On Tuesday, a four-year-old child died in police cross-fire, and three people were fatally injured.

Leaders representing the plains-based parties boycotted Wednesday’s vote.