Nepal govt to address Madhesis' concerns, amend Constitution

Nepal government has finally agreed to the demands of the agitating Madhesis and has decided to amend the new Constitution to address two key demands regarding proportional representation and constituency delimitation, a development which is likely to be welcomed by India.

The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of the cabinet held at Singha Durbar last night, which also agreed to set up a political mechanism to recommend solutions to disputes over the proposed provincial boundaries within three months of its formation.

The Madhes-based parties have been protesting for over four months against the seven-province model proposed in the new Constitution that divides their ancestral land in a way to politically marginalise them.

Madhesis, who reside in the Terai region bordering the border with India, constitute nearly 52 per cent of Nepal's population.

The agitating Madehesis have blockaded Nepal's border trade points with India, causing a shortage of essential goods, including fuel and medicines, in the landlocked country.

At least 50 people have been killed in protests since August.

The Nepal cabinet at its meeting decided to move forward with the bill to amend the new Constitution which has already been tabled in Parliament.

"The bill has ensured proportional inclusive participation in various state organs as demanded by the agitating parties and has also proposed delimitation of the electoral constituencies based on population," minister for industry Som Prasad Pandey told reporters after the meeting.

He said, it "will recommend solutions to disputes over the proposed provincial boundaries within three months of its formation".

The United Democratic Madhesi Front, the main group protesting against a new constitution in Nepal, has agreed to sit down for talks with the government in the first step toward easing the lingering crisis in the Himalayan nation.

In a statement issued today, the protestors said they have selected a four-member team to hold talks with the government.

But they said they will continue their protests, including blocking highways and border points with India.