Nepalese Premier: New Constitution will protect minority rights and state secularism
by Christopher Sharma
Sushil Koirala speaks at an event of the Nepal Trust Office, the government agency which lists and controls the assets belonging to the former royal family. The words of the premier weaken the Hindu pro-monarchist movements. Jesuit priest: "Democracy will be stronger when all religions are respected."

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - "Today, secularism and minority rights are fundamental to democracy. This is why they will be guaranteed in the new Constitution", announced the Prime Minister of Nepal, Sushil Koirala, yesterday during overseeing the possessions and properties scattered around the country that belonged to the former royal family.

After over 240 years of Hindu monarchy, in 2007 Nepal became a secular state. The interim constitution, which was approved under UN supervision prohibits proselytizing, but allows all citizens to express their faith, including through charitable and missionary activities. The political and economic instability of recent years - linked to the power struggles between secular parties - has strengthened pro-monarchist Hindu movements, who are attempting to curb the rise in conversions since the end of the monarchy's reign.

However, the drafting of the new Constitution is in progress and the words of Prime Minister instill confidence in the various religious communities. "Democracy - Jesuit Fr. Bill Robinson told AsiaNews - will be stronger when the faithful of all religions are free to exercise their rights and when the lives of minorities are respected".

According to a report delivered yesterday to Koirala, since 2007 the Nepal Trust Office has identified and placed more than one hundred acres of land belonging to the family of the last king under its control. The goal of the organization is to convert confiscated property into structures for the population and invest the assets they find in education and healthcare.

 

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