Nepal tightens security ahead of constitution proclamatioN

In Photo: Nepalese policemen stand guard as activists of Nepal’s Madhesi group protest against the new constitution outside the Constituent Assembly hall in Kathmandu, Nepal, on September 19. Various ethnic groups and Madhesi political parties are protesting against the new constitution, saying it discriminates or denies rights to their respective communities and is a conspiracy against ethnicity-based federalism.

KATHMANDU, Nepal—Security was stepped up in Nepal on Sunday ahead of the proclamation of the Himalayan nation’s new federal constitution after weeks of deadly protests by smaller political parties and ethnic groups.

Thousands of officers were guarding the streets and checking passengers on highways, police official Kamal Singh Bam said. Police have responded to reports of bombs being found in Kathmandu, but they all turned out to be a hoax.

A small protest of about 50 people in Kathmandu was quickly dispersed by police and two people were detained. Police were under orders to stop any protests.

Security was particularly high around the Constituent Assembly building in the capital, where President Ram Baran Yadav will officially proclaim the new constitution later on Sunday.

Opposition parties called a general strike to protest the constitution, but it had little effect on the traffic and markets remained open.

Schools and offices are closed because Sunday and Monday were declared public holidays to celebrate the constitution, Nepal’s first complete political framework since monarchy was abolished in 2006.

The charter, passed on Wednesday after a decade of political infighting and violent protests, sets the country up as a secular federation of seven states, each with a legislature and chief minister.

However, some ethnic and religious groups say lawmakers ignored their concerns over how state borders should be defined. They want more states, including ethnically based ones, bigger territory for larger groups and more seats for ethnic minorities in parliament and government.

Some among majority Hindus also believe the country’s reference as a Hindu nation should have been restored in the constitution.

Weeks of violent protests linked to two ethnic groups—the Tharu in southwestern Nepal and the Madhesi in the country’s south and southeast—have left at least 44 people dead, including police.

Image credits: AP


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