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PM hits snag with Madhesi leaders in amendment bid

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Kathmandu, November 24, 2016: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s effort to take the consent and mandate of the agitating Madhes-based parties for his ├é┬áconstitution amendment proposal hit a snag as the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) made it clear it could not support the proposal on changes to provincial boundaries.

PM Dahal held a meeting with the Madhesi leaders on Wednesday at his official residence at Baluwatar in a bid to persuade them to support the amendment bill.

While other Madhes-based parties suggested to the PM to register the amendment bill in Parliament and said they would discuss it further on the basis of the proposal itself, FSFN Co-Chair Rajendra Shrestha said that his party could not accept only changes to the boundaries of the existing seven provinces.

“The PM asked the leaders for their commitment to support the amendment proposal and to participate in elections to complete the constitution implementation process. He also said that registering the amendment proposal would have some meaning only after their commitment is given,” said Narayankaji Shrestha, senior leader of CPN (Maoist Center).

“FSFN said it can’t accept the proposal while the others said they would discuss it after the bill is in Parliament. As they could not put forward their concrete decision, the meeting did not reach any conclusion,” he added.

The government has prepared a draft of the bill to amend four provisions of the Constitution related to provincial boundaries, marital naturalized citizenship, representation in the national assembly and the language of official business.

The ruling CPN (Maoist Center) and Nepali Congress had decided to register the amendment bill in Parliament within a few days although the main opposition UML has threatened to protest against it.

“The PM briefed us about the situation. He urged us to support the bill and pass it with a two-third majority of Parliament. He argued that he is forwarding the bill even though the main opposition CPN-UML is opposing it and that his political future would be at risk if the Madhes-based parties also did not support it,” said Tarai Madhes Socialist Party General Secretary Keshav Jha.

“All our leaders under the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) asked the PM to register the amendment bill in Parliament and informed that the UDMF would decide on supporting it on the basis of how far it addresses our concerns. However, FSFN Co-Chair Shrestha made it clear his party could not support any proposal that carries forward the existing seven province model,” Jha said about the meeting.

Meanwhile, FSFN Chair Upendra Yadav, speaking in Saptari, warned the government to be prepared to face the next phase of protests and mass movement.