NEW DELHI: Nepal’s new prime minister said Friday during a visit to New Delhi he was trying to “bring everyone on board” with a divisive new national constitution that has caused tensions with his country’s closest ally India.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said his government wanted the constitution to work for all sections of Nepali society, after months of deadly protests last year by the Madhesi minority over fears it would leave them politically marginalized.
“You are aware that my government has made serious efforts to bring everyone on board as we enter the phase of implementation of the constitution in the interest of all segments of Nepalese society,” Dahal said after talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Nepal’s previous administration had accused India of imposing an “unofficial blockade” on the landlocked nation in support of the Madhesis, who share close cultural, linguistic and family links with Indians across the border.
But Dahal’s trip to New Delhi—his first foreign visit since taking office—is seen as an attempt to heal ties with India.
Landlocked Nepal depends heavily on its southern neighbor for fuel and also needs access to India’s ports for trade.
Modi said Nepal should “successfully implement the constitution through inclusive dialogue, accommodating the aspirations of all sections of a diverse society.”
He announced a $750 million credit line to help rebuild Nepal after a devastating earthquake last year.
Nepal began work on a new constitution after a decade-long civil war ended in 2006.
MPs finally agreed on the charter’s terms last year, spurred by the April 2015 earthquake.
It was the first to be drawn up by elected representatives and was meant to bolster the country’s transformation to a democratic republic after decades of political instability.
Instead it caused deep resentment among the Madhesis that has yet to be fully resolved.
Parliament in January amended the constitution to increase Madhesis’ presence in government bodies, but they say the amendments do not address their main demands. AFP