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Nepal ‘progress’

The draft Nepali constitution has met with vociferous opposition from Maoist groupings as well as from the Hindu royalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party–Nepal. Both Maoists and RPP-Ns have burnt copies of the document.

Activists from the oppressed Madhesi ethnic minorities challenged former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on 20 July as he collected feedback at Gaur in Rautahat district in the Madhes.

Despite a ruling by the supreme court that the constitution should define the boundaries of the eight federal provinces, the draft delegates this task to a federal commission. This contravenes the interim constitution, which says that the constituent assembly will define the boundaries of new provinces.

The international commission of jurists warned on 17 July that the people of Nepal needed more than 15 days of public consultation on the draft constitution, and the draft needed amendment in a number of areas to safeguard human rights – especially in relation to restrictions on the rights to free speech, expression, information and press freedom, and the freedoms of association and assembly.

Women’s groups are contesting discrimination in the constitution, for example giving instant citizenship to foreign women married to Nepali men; but forcing foreign men married to Nepali women to wait 15 years for citizenship.