Nepal’s leaders engage Madheshis, crisis continues

Leaders of Nepal’s three major political parties, including Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, met the agitating Madhesi Front, held another meeting on January 3 to end the deadlock over the Madhesi agitation, but the resolution of the months-long crisis still remain elusive.

The ruling coalition which comprises CPN-UML (Communist Party of Nepal) and UCPN-Maoist (Unified Communist Party of Nepal) held talks with the main opposition Nepali Congress and the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) at the Prime Minister’s residence in Kathmandu.

Issues relating to the agitation by Madhesis, largely of Indian-origin, border blockade and constitution amendment bill tabled in parliament were discussed. On behalf of the three major parties, Mr Oli, Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala and UCPN-Maoist chairman Prachanda participated in the meeting.

 Mahanta Thakur, who is the president of Terai Madhes Democratic Party; Upendra Yadav, president of Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum Nepal, and Mahendra Raya, president of Terai Madhes Sadbhawana Party were also present during the meeting. Mr Thakur and Mr Yadav represent the UDMF that has been carrying out an agitation in southern Nepal districts for the past four months. The UDMF is protesting against the new constitution that divides the country into seven federal provinces and feel that the new constitution is discriminatory and does not address the needs of the Madhesi communities.

The southern part of Nepal has been seriously affected by the protests against the country’s new constitution that was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on September 20. It is estimated that over 50 people have died during the Madhesi-Tharu agitation launched by the marginalized groups in the country. The Sadbhawana Party, one of the members of the four-party alliance, did not take part in the meeting.

The outcome of the high-profile meeting is not clear, with the Madheshis still carrying on with the agitation.

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