Nepal has formed a political committee to resolve the prickly issue of delineation of provinces under the new Constitution as part of government’s efforts to achieve reconciliation with the Madhesis.
A cabinet meeting held last evening, ahead of Prime Minister K P Oli’s maiden India visit, took the decision to constitute an 11-member political body under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa to recommend solutions for resolving the dispute on provincial boundaries.
Minister for Information and Communications Sherdhan Rai told the media that the political committee has been formed with an aim to resolve the ongoing political crisis in the country.
Rai said the committee would try and work through political consensus among all parties including the United Democratic Madhesi Front, the four-party alliance, that had been protesting for months over division of their homeland.
He said the committee would announce the ‘Terms of Reference’ as soon as it got final shape. Defining the ToR has remained major bone of contention with the agitating Madhesi parties.
The committee has been allotted three-month’s time to submit its final report on the demarcation of provinces.
“Today’s cabinet meeting has decided to constitute the body which will be given full shape once the prime minister returns home from India visit,” Education Minister Girirajmani Pokharel was quoted as saying by My Republica.
“We have decided to select its members later with the view to incorporate representatives from agitating Madhesi parties as well,” he said.
The cabinet decision came a day before Prime Minister Oli’s six-day India visit as part of his commitment that the government would form the political body prior to his trip.
Earlier, Nepal’s three major parties — Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) — and the constituent parties of the agitating UDMF had agreed to form a high-level political committee to suggest a solution for the demarcation dispute within three months of its formation.
Madhesis, who are largely of Indian-origin, led a nearly six-month-long violent protest over better representation in the Parliament and the federal structure of the new Constitution that divides their ancestral homeland that claimed over 50 lives before being called off unexpectedly.
The UDMF officially announced withdrawal of their protests including the border blockade earlier this month.