Nepal’s President refuses to ratify Citizenship Bill

Nepal’s President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on Tuesday refused to ratify the Citizenship Bill, which was passed twice by both the Houses of Parliament, within the mandatory deadline that expired on Tuesday midnight.

Sources in the President’s office said she chose not to ratify the Bill after consultation with cross-section of the society and suggestion that the issue merited wider debate and consensus. “After midnight, the Bill has lapsed,’ the sources said, adding that she missed the deadline deliberately as tenure of the current House ended 72 hours prior to deadline.

Explained

Fears before elections

There are fears that the confrontation between the President and the Prime Minister and and it’s resultant impact on overall situations might not only create viscous situation, but demoralise state apparatus, including security forces.

The Bill, which defines the entitlement for Citizenship based on marital ground and ensures non-voting Citizenship to non-resident Nepalis living in non-SAARC countries, was reviewed and sent back to the President for ratification. The President had earlier sought clarification on several issues from the Parliament.

The Constitution mandates that in such a case, the President should approve the Bill not beyond 15 days after both the Houses approve and send it back to the President. But the House of Representatives, where the Bill originated, completed its tenure and lapsed 48 hours before the mandatory 15 days period .

PM Deuba met the President twice with request not to put the Bill on hold as there were many stateless people. The coalition partner and Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda has even publicly asked for the President’s resignation.

Youth and student organisations belonging to the ruling coalition parties, mainly the Maoists and the Nepali Congress, have warned that they would launch a massive protest seeking Bhandari’s exit, while the main Opposition Communist party of Nepal/ Unified Marxist Leninist has defended her stand.

The timing of the current confrontation comes just two months before the general election, making the situation a case of complete Constitutional breakdown.

There are fears that the confrontation between the President and the Prime Minister and and it’s resultant impact on overall situations might not only create viscous situation, but demoralise state apparatus, including the security forces.


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