Kathmandu: Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar arrived in Kathmandu as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special envoy to hold talks with Nepalese leaders across the political spectrum amid protests by Madhesi groups over the country’s new Constitution which will be unveiled on Sunday.
During his two-day visit, Mr Jaishankar will pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and meet other top leaders of the country, including CPN-UML chairman KP Sharma Oli and UCPN-Maoist chief Prachanda.
“He will also been meeting with senior leaders of agitating Madhesi parties during his brief stay in Kathmandu,” according to Indian Embassy sources in Kathmandu.
The Foreign Secretary’s visit to Nepal at a time the country is about to promulgate a new constitution is termed in Kathmandu as “significant”.
Nepal’s Constituent Assembly (CA) has already endorsed the final draft of the new Constitution and President Ram Baran Yadav is scheduled to promulgate the Constitution during a special function on Sunday.
However, 60 Constituent Assembly members belonging to the Madhesi parties have not participated in the Constitution drafting process showing their reservation over the seven province federal model proposed by the major political parties.
A month-long violent clashes between the Joint Madhesi Front and the security personnel over the issue has so far claimed over 40 lives, including 11 police officers.
India had expressed concern over the ongoing protests and strife in Nepal and called for continuing flexibility on the part of all the political forces so that outstanding issues are addressed through dialogue.
Nepal was declared a secular state in 2006 after the end of decade-long civil war between Maoist insurgents and the state that claimed nearly 16,000 lives.
A Constituent Assembly was elected in 2008 after the abolishment of the Himalayan country’s 240-year-old Hindu monarchy, but it could not finish its task of drafting Constitution despite four extensions.
Subsequently, a second Constituent Assembly was elected in 2013 which deliberated the draft for over two years.
The drafting process was accelerated after the deadly-quake of April 12 that claimed more than 9,000 lives in the country of 28 million people.
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