Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nepal becomes a Federal Democratic Republic

Today Nepal became the newest member of the federal republic clubs. Nepal was declared Federal Democratic Republic today by first meeting of the Constitution Assembly. With this comes the ending of centuries old monarchy in Nepal. More here. More from BBC News.

To loud cheers and resounding handclaps, the first sitting of the Constituent Assembly (CA) unanimously declared the country a republic late on Wednesday night, with only four votes against. The much-anticipated meeting took the decision late on Wednesday night after a nearly ten-and-a-half-hour delay, effectively ending the 240-year-old institution of monarchy and making the king an ordinary citizen.

The Chairman of the CA KB Gurung announced that the proposal to declare the country a federal democratic republic which was tabled at the CA meet was passed with a majority vote on Wednesday at the historic meeting held at the Birendra International Convention Centre (BICC) in the capital. Out of a total 564 votes, the proposal garnered 560 votes in its favour, while only four votes were cast against the proposal.

“In the context of implementing a republic in the country, the CA meeting directs the now then King residing at the Narayanhiti palace and the private secretariat structure concerning him to leave within fifteen-days,” said Gurung reading out the government’s decision.
He also directed the Nepal government to immediately control and manage the Narayanhiti palace which has now become a national property.

Home Minister Krishana Prasad Sitaula, on behalf of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, tabled the proposal for the implementation of a federal democratic republic at the CA meeting before the final votes were cast.

The CA, elected through the landmark election held last month, formally passed the proposal, bidding farewell to the only Hindu King of the world.

Emerging from the meeting, NC leader and Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandara Poudel said,” Today we have agreed to transform the country into a federal democratic republic and oust the king and replace it with a presidential system.” Poudel added that the cabinet will sort out all the remaining issues such as the powers and duties of the president and the Deputy-President. In a meeting held at Baluwatar in the run-up-to the first CA sitting, the ruling Seven-Party alliance (SPA) agreed on a provision of a constitutional president who will execute his duties on the recommendations of the cabinet. However, in what appeared to be an eleventh-hour syndrome, the major constituents of the CA failed to reach a common agreement on other key issues until late Wednesday evening.

The 601-member CA is assigned with the responsibility of writing a new constitution and ushering the country into a new era.

On Tuesday, a total of 568 CA members took the oath of office and secrecy after being elected in the landmark CA polls conducted under First-Past-the-Post and Proportional Representation electoral systems in April.

The former rebels CPN-Maoists won 220 seats in the April 10 ballot, Nepali Congress won 110 seats, while the CPN -UML secured 103 and the newly emerged party Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF), representing Madhes the country’s southern plains along the Indian border, won 52 seats.