After 9-pt deal, indigenous leaders see challenges ahead
KATHMANDU, May 24: A day after Indigenous Nationalities Joint Struggle Committee and government signed a nine-point agreement that promised to introduce the issues raised by the committee--including their demand for ethnicity-based federalism--in the Constituent Assembly (CA), leaders from indigenous nationalities said that they still see challenges ahead to establish their agendas.
"We have just entered into a process. Political parties have agreed to take up our issues, but it has to be addressed at the Constituent Assembly," ethnic rights activist Malla K Sundar told Republica. [breakl]
He stated that they are not ready to term the nine-point agreement as an achievement in view of the opposition of Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML to the formation of single identity-based federal provinces as promised in the Tuesday´s agreement.
"This is the time to see whether or not NC and UML will come out in support of the aspiration of indigenous peoples, Madhesis, and other backward communities that constitute 70 percent of the population of the country," Sundar said.
General Secretary of Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (Nefin) Aang Kaji Sherpa said they were aware of the government´s poor record when it came to implementing agreements.
"We have signed agreement with the government in past as well, but they have not been implemented," said Sherpa, adding, "We will launch struggle programs, especially, to exert pressure on NC and CPN-UML."
Sundar said that they have not concluded their struggle programs yet. "Though we have called off our general strike, our movement is still going on."
When asked about their victory rally in the capital, a day after signing of the agreement with the government, Sundar sought to downplay it as a gathering held to inform peoples about the nine-point agreement.
Chairman of Tamsaling Nepal Rastriya Dal Parshuram Tamang, on the other hand, is hopeful about the fulfillment of their demands. "We [indigenous and Madhesi lawmakers] have strong position in the CA. Ultimately, NC and CPN-UML will be compelled to address our demands," said Tamang, adding, "If they don´t address our concerns, they´ll lose their existence."
Chairman of Nefin Rajkumar Lekhi said he was not satisfied with Tuesday´s agreement saying it did not incorporate all of their demands.
"I did not sign the nine-point agreement as I had some reservations," Lekhi added.
According to Nefin, the umbrella organization of Indigenous nationalities, indigenous people constitutes 37.2 percent of the total population of the country. As per the organization´s record, there are 18 nationalities in the Himalayan regions, 19 in the Hilly region, 11 in the Tarai region amd 8 nationalities in the inner Tarai region.