KATHMANDU, May 28: Amid heightened security, hundreds of people gathered outside the Constituent Assembly (CA) Sunday as deadline on its term approached and its main task of promulgating the constitution still incomplete.
There was a palpable curiosity among the people as politicians tired to hammer out agreement. While some posed for cameras with the CA building in the background, others found shaded areas to followed the latest political development on their mobile phones.
Still, there were other groups who thought t was the perfect time to protest for their cause.
It was an historic day for the people and their hunger for developments knew no bounds. They wanted to know whether the government would promulgate new constitution within the stipulated deadline or not.
As parties failed to forge consensus even till the last day of the fifth-time extended deadline, there had been widespread speculations about finding a "magical solution" on Sunday .
However, various indigenous communities including Sherpa, Magar, Tharu, Tamuwan, Tamang, Limbuwan and Newars and women communities, had organized a sit-in protest around the CA building.
Pressuring the government to promulgate the new constitution by Sunday night by ensure identity-based province to the respective ethnic groups, they organized cultural shows throughout the day. For the day, the areas around the CA looked like a venue for cultural performance.
On the other hand Brahamin Chhetri Samaj organized a mass gathering at Northern area of CA protesting identity-based federalism. Similarly, a religious group had organized a sit-in protest in front of CA demanding Nepal be declared a Hindu state in new constitution.
While various groups were organizing programs to pressure the government to promulgate constitution on time, a group of youths were vigorously welcoming the new constitution. The group of more than 100 youths sang satirical songs and welcomed the constitution. The youths, who came to a common ground through social networking site, facebook, had been organizing the campaign for a month.
Though one third of total police in the valley were deployed at CA to prevent any untoward incident, a clash between police and supporters of Brahamin Chhetri Samaj took place at Gate No. 3 of CA. According to SSP JB Chand, the clash occurred as demonstrators entered the prohibited area.
“We used batons and fired tear gas to control the crowd,” he said. He informed 13 demonstrators including five cops were injured during the clash.
As various ethnic groups, Brahamin Chhetri Samaj, youth and women communities gathered around CA to pressure parties to promulgate new constitution and ensure their demand by Sunday night, Shreejana Shrestha of Republica asked few of them about what they felt? Excerpts:
Sammar Bahadur Thapa, 58
I am pretty confident that parties won´t promulgate the new constitution by Sunday night. The Constituent Assembly (CA) might be dissolved. Even if they draft constitution, it won´t be pro-people. The new constitution should ensure identity-based federalism because we don´t want ethnic province.
Krishna Menyangbo, 28
Parties should promulgate constitution today at any cost. We are hopeful that new constitution will ensure our identity and I think our nation becomes perfect only after the government ensures identity to all ethnic communities under federalism.
Kala Rai, 31
I am hopeful that parties will bring new constitution before the deadline. The government should ensure gender friendly constitution because we want women´s participation in every state mechanism.
Dawa Tsering Sherpa, 27
We are here to put pressure on parties to promulgate new constitution within the stipulated deadline. We want a new constitution to ensure our identity and provide equal rights to all people. We warn parties of strong protest if they fail to bring the constitution today.
Keshav Singh Thakuri, 51
The government should declare Nepal as a Hindu state in new constitution by removing the provision of secular nation. Regarding the constitution, there will be lot of disputes even if parties promulgate constitution today.
Sailendra Sah, 23
Culture and languages spoken was te base for discrimination among people in our society. Our program is symbolic in this regard. So, parties should bring the constitution today and provide people with equal rights without division.
February 4, 1996: The then Janamorcha leader Baburam Bhattarai hands a list of 40 demands that included a call for CA elections to the government led by Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba. It also warns of civil war if the demands were not addressed. The CPN (Maoists) launches an armed insurgency a few days later on February 13.
August, 2003: The Maoists again raise the demand for CA during peace talks with the government in Hapure village of Dang district during the Royal regime.
22 November, 2005: The seven political parties and Maoists sign a twelve-point accord in which the parties agree to hold CA elections for a full democracy.
24 April, 2006: The elected parliament is restored by the then king Gyanendra after a 19-day uprising. A special meeting of the restored parliament strips the monarch of all powers on May 18, 2006. The meeting also passes a resolution to hold elections for a CA that would be entrusted to write a new constitution of the country.
21 November, 2006: The seven parties and the Maoists sign Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) bringing the rebels to mainstream politics. The CPA also reiterates the parties´ resolution to hold CA elections.
10 April, 2008: The election for CA is held. A unicameral body of 601 members tasked with writing a new constitution formed. The CA comprised of 240 elected through first-past-the post system, 335 through proportional representation, and the remaining 26 nominated by parties.
28 May, 2008: The CA declares Nepal a republic during its first meeting, abolishing monarchy.
27 May, 2010: The parties decided to extend the CA term by one year. The term extension takes place three times more.
25 November 25, 2011: The Supreme Court (SC) stalls further CA term extension saying it should be dissolved if the new constitution is not promulgated by May 27.
24 May, 2012: The SC issues an interim order against the bill registered by the government in parliament seeking three-month CA term extension.
May 27, 2012: CA dissolved without promulgating the new constitution.