Nepal’s seventh Constitution in 67 years became the object of celebration and concern soon after President Ram Baran Yadav promulgated it on Sunday from a decorated rostrum inside the Constituent Assembly (CA) in Kathmandu.
The Constitution marked the country’s transition to a secular and democratic republic from a Hindu monarchy, but at least 60 representatives belonging to Madhes-centric parties and indigenous groups, or Janjatis, boycotted the event calling it a “farce” that denied them their rights.
Activists from Madhes-centric parties have been protesting in border areas against what they claim is an “arbitrary demarcation of provinces” decided upon by the country’s three major parties. And while Kathmandu celebrated the promulgation of the Constitution on Sunday, at least one person was killed in police firing in Birgunj, along the Bihar border.
One killed and several injured during clash btw protesters & police, protesters set vehicle on fire in Birgunj, Nepal pic.twitter.com/YTgokqSA81
— ANI (@ANI_news) September 20, 2015
Violence surrounding the federal structure that will divide the country into seven provinces has claimed at least 40 lives, including the latest death.
“I call for unity and cooperation of all at this historic moment,” said President Ram Baran Yadav as he unveiled the new statute.
The promulgation marks the end of a nine-year transition riddled with uncertainty, especially in the wake of the failure of the first Constituent Assembly in May 2012.
The new Constitution has 37 divisions, 304 articles and seven annexes. The seven provinces will be finalised by a high-level commission within a year.
As reports of protests and vandalism poured in from some southern Nepal districts on Sunday, there were pro and anti-Constitution rallies, and sporadic clashes in Biratnagar, Birgunj, Dharan and Sarlahi in southern and eastern Nepal. In Siraha, Madhesi Front cadres set on fire the house of a Nepali Congress lawmaker.
Earlier, two bomb threats were reported from Lalitpur district, adjoining Kathmandu, but police later described them as false alarms.
(With inputs from agencies)