09/19/2015, 00.00
NEPAL
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Kathmandu: Celebrations for new Constitution. But minorities are under curfew

by Christopher Sharma
President of Nepal will promulgate the constitutional text tomorrow. Two days of national holidays. A curfew in the Terai region bans public gatherings. Minority leaders: "Government calls for dialogue but then holds us at gunpoint". Dialogue Committees willing to meet with the authorities to amend the basic charter.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The government of Nepal has launched an appeal for the entire population to join in the celebrations for the new Constitution, approved September 16, after years of discussion. But in the Terai region (in the southern district of Morang), home to the tharu and madhese minority who have bitterly opposed the text, the curfew, established from Kathmandu to quell the protests, is still in force.

The authorities have organized a two-day national holiday to celebrate the historic event, which puts an end to the constitutional process started at the end of the civil war in 2006. Celebrations will start at 5:00 pm (local time) tomorrow and will continue throughout the next day.

Minendra Rijal, Minister of Information and government spokesman, said: "The president of Nepal will officially promulgate the new constitution on Sunday afternoon. I ask everyone to participate with festive gatherings and lighted candles in the many events planned for tomorrow evening and all day on Monday".

Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar, leader of minority groups, complains: "The government is asking us to celebrate but imposes curfews in our region. The army keeps us under fire with their weapons and enter our homes and threatened to arrest us. How can we celebrate the Constitution? ".

The politician underlined that the tribal communities of the country have been asking to set up an autonomous province to ensure the rights of minorities, while the three major parties in the country “refused to listen" and decided to divide the territory into seven provinces.

Rajkumar Lekhi, another minority politician, recalls that in the demonstrations of recent weeks a child was crushed by the crowd. "After that incident - he says - we can no longer move from our homes and cannot gather in public places. Although the Constituent Assembly has now voted the final text, we are open to new changes through amendments. We have already formed committees to dialogue and we will immediately present these amendments to the government, if it invites us".

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