Nepal votes on new constitution

Nepal’s Constituent Assembly began voting on a draft of the Himalayan nation’s much-delayed new constitution yesterday despite protests from ethnic minority groups.

The constitution has been delayed by years of disagreements between the main political parties, and the voting on the draft is seen as major progress. The three main parties finally reached agreement this year, enabling the process to move on after years of stalemate.

Nepal has had an interim constitution since pro-democracy protests forced then-King Gyanendra to give up authoritarian rule and turn the country into a republic. A Constituent Assembly elected in 2008 failed to draft a new charter, and another assembly was elected in 2013.

Speaker Subash Nemwang commenced the voting Sunday on the draft and amendment proposals.

The voting, which is expected to take at least a day or two, was boycotted by the smaller opposition parties, but they make up only 9% of the assembly.

The new constitution proposes to split Nepal into seven federal provinces. Some ethnic groups disagree with the makeup, border and size of the provinces.


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