Nepal adopts new constitution

President Yadav proclaims new constitution as clashes continue between protesters and police, claiming one life

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav announces new constitution in the parliament in Kathmandu, Nepal September 20, 2015

Nepal on Sunday officially adopted its first "secular and democratic" constitution which took more than seven years to complete amid years of political and civil unrest.

The controversial document defines the majority Hindu nation as a secular federation divided into seven states, each with a law making body and chief minister.

President Ram Baran Yadav signed the charter and made the proclamation announcement among members of the Constituent Assembly in the capital Kathmandu.

"We believe that the adoption of the new constitution has now opened the path for development of the country," Yadav told the assembly.

As he made the announcement, thousands were cheering and celebrating outside the assembly hall, waving the national flag while fireworks went off.

Nepalese people celebrate the adoption of the nation’s new constitution, outside the parliament in the capital Kathmandu (AP)

But not everyone was happy, opposition parties had called for a general strike to protest the new constitution.

Although the strike was not effective, police said one protestor was killed and some people were injured earlier on Sunday in clashes between officers and demonstrators in southern Nepal.

Security forces were on high alert during the day due to protests that had erupted since the draft was first announced in August. The violence has caused the death of at least 45 people in the past few weeks.

Nepalese police detain an opposition supporter protesting against the proposed constitution during a strike called by the opposition parties in Kathmandu, Nepal September 20, 2015 (Reuters)

There are more than a hundred ethnic groups in Nepal and some believe the new constitution doesn’t represent them. Although members of parliament are to be selected with elections giving proportional representation, minority groups say they want to hold more seats. They also demand larger territory for bigger groups and more states, especially ethnically based ones.

But the main parties say such matters can be discussed in the future.

The new constitution was initially agreed by parliament on Wednesday. It replaces a temporary one that was meant to function for only a few years but has been in place since 2007.

The need for a new charter was put forward by Maoist militants whose 10-year war against the government ended with a peace treaty in 2006.

The Maoists then won elections to the constituent assembly in 2008, leading to the end of the country's 240-year-long monarchy, but due to political disputes the assembly was unable to draft a new constitution.


TRTWorld and agencies