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Nepal`s pro-Madhesi party threatens stir over citizenship row

Last Updated: Friday, October 1, 2010 - 20:05

Kathmandu: A Terai-based Madhesi party in
Nepal on Friday threatened to launch an agitation against the
government for failing to provide citizenship certificates to
lakhs of Indian ethnic origin people living in the southern
plains bordering India.

Upendra Yadav, the former Foreign Minister and
president of People?s Rights Forum (MPRF), opposed the
preparation of voters` identity card without first
distribution of citizenship certificates to lakhs of Madhesi
residents, who are of Indian ethnic origin.

Yadav demanded halt to works for preparation of
voter’s list as citizenship certificate is a must for
enrollment on the voters` list.

He warned that if the government does not end the
current drive, his party will launch an agitation to disrupt
the exercise.

He said the process of registering name on the voters
list should be immediately stopped as more than three million
people of Terai region have been deprived of their citizenship

Talking to reporters in Nepal`s eastern town of
Biratnagar today, he alleged the government has been pursuing
discriminatory policy with regards to the Madhesi people while
registering names for distributing voters identity cards.

Nepal`s Terai plains are home to about half of the
country`s 30 million people. The pro-Terai parties argue that
people in the Madhesi-dominated southern plains have long been
treated as second-class citizens in Nepal, where hill-origin
elites dominate politics, the security forces and business.

They have complained that the government has deprived
lakhs of Madheshis of their citizenship certificates even
though they have lived in the country for generations.

They have demanded greater economic and political
rights, including more representation in the state structure.

Yadav said the works related with the voter’s list
preparation should resume only after the completion of the
works relating to the distribution of citizenship certificates
following the formation of a new government.

The government began the campaign for distribution of
voters identity card with digital photographs for the next

Three months after the 22-party coalition led by Prime
Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal collapsed, nine rounds of poll
have failed to elect a new leader. The country has been
without a government since June 30, when Nepal stood down
under intense pressure from the Maoists.

Nepali Congress leader R C Poudyal, the sole candidate
for the post of Prime Minister, yesterday failed in his ninth
attempt in a row to garner a majority in parliament,
prolonging Nepal`s political uncertainty.

The Madhesi parties together form the fourth largest
block in the 601-member Constituent Assembly, which functions
as the country`s interim parliament.


First Published: Friday, October 1, 2010 - 20:05
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