Political, civic leaders call for inclusion of dissenting voices in constitution drafting

21 May 2014

imageUN resident Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick addressing the seminar.

Political and Civil Society leaders have called on the Constituent Assembly to accommodate the dissenting political parties and groups in drafting a new constitution to ensure the new constitution's acceptability and durability.

Speaking at a seminar organized jointly by UNDP Nepal and Conciliation Resources, a UK-based organization, the political and civil society leaders said both the substance of the new constitution should reflect socio-political and economic transformation that Nepal is undergoing.

Former Speaker and senior civil society leader Daman Nath Dhungana called on the major parties in the parliament to bring the forces, which are outside the CA, into constitution drafting process.

Former Peace and Reconstruction Minister and UCPN-M leader Janardan Sharma argued that the parties should recognize 12-point Agreement reached in 2005 as the guiding document for the new statute. "If the substance does not reflect people's aspirations, legitimacy of the constitution will be immediately challenge", said Sharma.

CPN-M leader Suresh Ale Magar, however, argued that the CA represented only 42 percent of the adult population as majority either didn't register their name or did not cast their votes.

Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party leader Pushpa Thakur, civil Society leaders Durga Sob and journalist Chandrakishore and Chairman of Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities Nagendra Kumal also expressed concerns that the voices of Dalits, women and minority groups may not be adequately reflected in the new constitution.

Responding to concerns on the constitution drafting process, NC leader Shekhar Koirala assured the civil society leaders that CA was trying its best to address all the dissent voices through Constitutional and Political Dialogue Committee inside the CA.  He also urged the CPN-M leaders, present in the seminar, not to oppose dialogue with the CA committee and miss an opportunity to institutionalize changes through a statute owned by all.

Speaking at the function, former Home Minister and CPN-UML leader Bhim Rawal informed that the new CA has already owned up work carried out by the last CA and that the new CA is mindful of country's diversity.

The interactive seminar was part of UNDP's Conflict Prevention Program's initiative aimed at facilitating constructive dialogue among political and civil society actors in their effort towards managing Nepal's transition and ensuring transformative changes through dialogue and collaboration.