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ICC Note:

Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister has announced that a new constitution will be passed for the country in the coming months. Nepal has been without an official constitution for many years, which has left the status of many of Nepalis’ fundamental rights in a legal grey area, including religious freedom. The Deputy Prime Minister announced the new constitution would establish a secular nation and would provide for religious freedom. Will Nepal new constitution help the country’s Christians worship freely?

7/9/2015 Nepal (Daiji World) – Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Bamdev Gautam has expressed confidence that a new constitution will be promulgated in the country in two months and said the devastating earthquake on April 25 brought the quibbling political parties together in finalizing the much-delayed document.

“We would be able to declare the constitution in two months from now,” Gautam told IANS in an interview at his residence here last week. Gautam said the new constitution will be secular and the state will not create any obstacle in the practice of religion.

He said people who had lost their houses during the devastating April earthquake and the aftershocks that followed were being provided temporary shelters during the monsoon and the task of reconstruction will be taken up in full swing once the rains get over.

“We have reached the last stage of relief work. After this, we will engage in rebuilding and rehabilitation. A plan has been made and it will be implemented. It (the earthquake) is a national calamity and one needs courage to fight an adversity. We have sought to boost the morale of the people,” Gautam told IANS.

Over 8,500 people were killed and more than 23,000 injured in Nepal’s devastating earthquake that also flattened numerous villages in central and western regions of the Himalayan nation rendering hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

Gautam, who belongs to the CPN-UML and is also the country’s home minister, said Nepal cannot be without a Constitution for long. “No country in the world can stay without a Constitution in the 21st century. We have faith that we will be able to declare the new constitution shortly,” he said.

Gautam affirmed that Nepal wanted to take forward its relationship with India.

“India is emerging as an economic center not only in south Asia, but in Asia. We express happiness that our neighbor is a big country. In the north, China has also emerged as an economic center. We also want to develop as an economic center between India and China,” Gautam said.

He said the people of Nepal were grateful over the way Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the people of India supported Nepal following the April 25 earthquake.

“We hope that in the future also, the Indian people will support us in our development effort, and stand by us in our pain, in our happiness, in our prosperity,” Gautam said.

He said all religions find freedom in Nepal. “But asking people to leave their religion on the basis of allurements would be declared illegal. We have written it down in the draft Constitution,” he said.

Over 80 percent of Nepal’s population is estimated to be Hindu, while nine percent are Buddhists — the remaining are Muslims, Christians and animists.

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