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  • » 04/29/2008, 00.00

    NEPAL

    Nepali parties to choose minority representatives

    Kalpit Parajuli

    The country’s electoral law reserves seats for women and ethnic, social and religious minorities. The new administration needs a two thirds majority to govern and minority votes may prove decisive.

    Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – The Nepali political parties that won the right to be represented in the new assembly in the 10 April election are preparing the lists for their share of the 335 seats elected under proportional representation (PR) which they have to submit to the National Election Commission (NEC). In the meantime discussions are underway to set up the new government.

    Some of the 335 seats are reserved for women and ethnic, social and religious minorities. Women for instance will get at least 125 seats; 76 are to go to the Madhese; 32 to Dalits; 94 to Janajatis, 8 to backward regions and 47 to other minorities, including religious minorities (Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists and Muslims). If the lists fail to meet the predetermined criteria parties have three days to revise them.

    At the same time talks are underway to form the new government. Maoist leader Prachanda is claiming the right to head the new government but under the transitional constitution a two third majority is need in parliament to form a government, and no party comes even close to that. Coalition-building is thus the game of the day and minorities might play a decisive role.

    According to the NEC, out of 11,146,540 votes cast under proportional representation, the number of valid votes was 10,739,078. Maoists secured 120 seats in first-past-the-post out of a total of 240 seats as well as 100 seats under the PR system. The Nepali Congress party has won 110 seats (73 under the PR system) and the Communist Party-UML, 103.

    Admitted in parliament for the first time minorities have positively reacted to the electoral outcome.

    “We are really happy to involve ourselves in writing our constitution for the first time. But political parties should honestly include all minority groups as provided under the law,” said Om Gurung, president of the Nepal Adivashi-Janajati party.

    “It is good to be inclusive and we are happy for it. But we are yet to see how much inclusive the entire constitution will be,” Binod Gurung, president of Nepal Catholic Society, told AsiaNews. “The number of candidates doesn’t matter much; what matters is the constitution as a whole, how inclusive it will be."

    “For the first time the population is taking part in drafting the constitution,” said Ananda, a Buddhist monk and leader. But he is waiting to see what it will have in store for minorities, “including religious minorities.”

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    See also

    03/01/2008 NEPAL
    Christmas becoming a national holiday in the former Hindu kingdom
    Parliament adds four more statutory holidays to the calendar in recognition of the country’s religious and ethnic minorities. Muslims, Buddhists and others react to the decision with satisfaction. Some see it as a first step.

    08/02/2008 NEPAL
    Maoists reactivate underground councils, break with government
    Despite being in the ruling coalition government, Maoists break the peace deal agreed to in November 2006 and revive local “people’s councils” to “manage” the upcoming elections to the constituent assembly.

    31/07/2008 NEPAL
    After Father Prakash’s death, threats and extortion attempts are made against Nepali Catholics
    Criminals announce new attacks against Catholic faithful and religious institutions. Hindu fundamentalists are suspected. Apostolic vicar turns to Interior minister to get greater “protection and security” for the entire Christian community.

    20/05/2008 NEPAL
    Maoists confess their crimes on Buddha’s birthday
    In Buddha’s birthplace of Kapilvastu, Nepal’s main political parties confess their sins and pledge their commitment to peace. Maoist leader Prachanda is accused however of leading a still violent group.

    14/04/2008 NEPAL
    ‘Maoist Republic’ on its way
    The Elections Commission confirms Maoist party’s landslide victory. Its leaders call upon the international community to trust them as they get ready to abolish the monarchy.



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