Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari refused to ratify the citizenship bill, which was passed twice by both houses of parliament, within the mandated deadline ending Tuesday midnight.
Sources in the President’s Office said they decided not to ratify the bill after consultations with various sections of the society and suggested that there should be a wider debate and consensus on the issue. “After midnight, the Bill has expired,” sources said, adding that she deliberately missed the deadline as the tenure of the current House ended 72 hours before the deadline.
fear before the election
There are apprehensions that the confrontation between the President and the Prime Minister and its consequent impact on the overall situation may not only create a sticky situation, but may demoralize the state apparatus, including the security forces.
The bill, which defines the right to citizenship on matrimonial grounds 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 clarifications from Parliament on several issues.
The Constitution states that in such a case the President must assent to the bill after 15 days from the approval of both the Houses and send it back to the President. But the House of Representatives, where the bill originated, completed its term and expired 48 hours before the mandatory 15-day period.
PM Deuba met the President twice and requested that the bill not be postponed as many people were stateless. Coalition ally and Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda has also publicly called for the President’s resignation.
Youth and student organizations belonging to the ruling coalition parties, mainly the Maoists and the Nepali Congress, have warned that they will launch mass protests demanding Bhandari’s exit, while Nepal’s main opposition Communist Party/Unified Marxist Leninist has defended his stand.
The timing of the current confrontation comes just two months before the general election, making the situation a case of a complete constitutional breakdown.
There are apprehensions that the confrontation between the President and the Prime Minister and its consequential impact on the overall situation may not only lead to a sticky situation, but also demoralize the state apparatus, including the security forces.