KATHMANDU, JUL 07 – At a time when four Madhes-based parties are boycotting discussions in the Constitution Assembly, the UCPN (Maoist) has said that the delineation of federal units should be decided before constitution promulgation. The main opposition party has presented its position in informal meetings with the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML. Citing the changed circumstances, the party argues that it is better to settle the demarcation as the constitution draft undergoes modifications over the next few weeks. In the 16-point agreement signed on June 8, four major political parties have agreed to decide the boundaries of eight federal states within nine months of constitution promulgation while provincial assemblies name the states. Madhesi and Janajati parties in particular and indigenous community CA members from major parties, including women, have expressed their reservations over numerous provisions of the draft. Major party leaders, however, defend that the deal was right as it contributed to the preparation of the preliminary draft of the constitution. The Maoists have proposed discussions on the contentious issue while the CA process continues. The party has proposed that the demarcation and other details of the provinces should be agreed to tentatively while a proposed expert commission finalises the matter. “We have proposed this alternative with the NC and the UML and they are positive about it,” said Maoist Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha. The UCPN (Maoist) believes that state demarcation could be decided within a month if the two ruling parties take it seriously. Shrestha said it was improper to decide the numbers before laying out other details. “The demarcation should be guided by some principles, which in turn decide the number,” said Shrestha. There are growing voices in the NC and the UML as well that delineation should be decided before the new charter gets its final shape. Maoist leaders said they would strongly raise this demand before the final draft of the constitution is prepared. Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal, Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party, Sadbhawana Party and Tarai Madhes Sadbhawana Party are boycotting deliberations in the CA on the preliminary draft stating that a constitution that does not decide federalism wholly will be incomplete. These parties were earlier members of the 19-party alliance led by Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal. They announced their disassociation with Dahal after the 16-point agreement. NC leader and Transport Minister Bimalendra Nidhi said in the Assembly on Monday that the constitution should be promulgated only after deciding the state boundaries. “A commission to demarcate federal units should be formed without delay. The CA can take up its report on time,” said Nidhi.
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