Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Constituent Assembly must postpone its decision on defining federalism

Urgent Civic Appeal, 27 May 2012
“Constituent Assembly must postpone its decision on defining federalism.”

Nepal’s Constituent Assembly’s task of defining federalism has not yielded results after four years of trying, and in the last moments the debate has become unhealthy. The discussion’s direction has threatened the relationships and goodwill between Nepal’s communities. Escalating communal tension would also threaten the country’s economic advance and social development. Given this, we are compelled to make the following appeal.

Federalism and a restructuring of the state of the kind that promotes goodwill between Nepal’s communities will be viable. A federalism that is defined on the basis of the demographic diversity of our country, its history of settlement, and its unique geography will safeguard the identity of each community while simultaneously opening the door to economic prosperity in every part. For this, in particular, provinces must be created in such a way that optimum exploitation of natural resources including water resources to benefit the people of the Himalayan highlands, the midhills, and the Tarai/Madhes plains becomes possible.

We also believe that federalism must be shaped with humanist sensitivity and social-scientific thinking, in order to guarantee the identity and prosperity of every marginalized community. The division of provinces must not be allowed to benefit some communities while compromising the dignity and socio-economic circumstances of others. In particular, when ten of Nepal’s 118 communities are seen to be privileged, there is imminent danger that the remaining communities – more than 100 in all – will feel deprived, and that communal harmony will be disturbed.

It is clear that federalism has not been adequately debated in the Constituent Assembly during its extended term. Neither has there been open and extensive discussion among the general public on this crucial subject. Even in the final moments of the Assembly’s tenure, the voices of many marginalized and minority communities remain unheard. In other words, both within the Constituent Assembly and without, the debate on federalism is incomplete. The definition of federalism must not be adopted without allowing the debate to run its course.

We, the undersigned citizens, recommend that it is inappropriate to decide on the crucial and sensitive matters of the demarcation and naming of the federal provinces on this, the last day of the Constituent Assembly, 27 May 2012. It will be wise for the definition of federalism to be withheld, and carried forward through an appropriate and authoritative arrangement in the days ahead.

May the federalism to be enshrined in the new Constitution of Nepal ensure the well-being and prosperity of all our peoples.


Bijay Man Sherchan
Rajesh Bishwakarma
Nim Bahadur Budathoki Magar
Capt. Vijay Lama
Dr. Ganesh Gurung
Ratna Sansar Shrestha
Contact tel: 97410-67616

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