Inclusion and accommodation integral part of democracy: FM Mahat
February 14, 2017 07:59 PM NPT
Minister for Foreign Affairs Prakash Saran Mahat (Republica file photo)
KATHMANDU, Feb 14: Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat has said that making democratic practices more inclusive and accommodative is an important yet difficult challenge to contemporary democracy and is even more challenging to a country like Nepal with huge diversity in ideas, religion, culture, language and ethnicity.
"However, we do not have leverage and we must bring on board all sections of our society in the democratic system, if democracy is to sustain," he said.
Speaking at an Interaction on ‘Inclusive Democracy and Economic Transformation in Nepal: Prospects and Challenges’, jointly organized by the Embassy of Nepal in Brussels, Belgium and the European Institute for Asian Studies in Brussels on Tuesday, Dr Mahat said new values of inclusion, new ideas of accommodation of minority, new concept of involving the marginalized sections of society in the decision making process have now become inseparable part of ideal democracy.
Shedding light on Nepal's journey to democracy and her struggle for democracy for more than 65 years, the Foreign Minister said with the promulgation of the present Constitution in 2015 Nepalis believe now a blueprint of an inclusive democracy for Nepal has been in place. The new constitution, he said, encompasses the main features of a democratic and inclusive polity, including strong commitment to democratic norms and values, civil liberty, fundamental human rights, adult franchise, periodic elections, complete press freedom and an independent, impartial and competent judiciary, and the concept of rule of law.
State policies are aimed at uplifting the overall status of socially backward women, Dalits, Adibasi Janajatis, Madhesis, Tharus, minorities, persons with disability, marginalized, Muslims, backward classes, gender and sexual minorities, citizens from backward regions and economically poor people. Separate Constitutional Commissions have also been established to protect rights and welfare of these marginalized communities.
Dr Mahat said inclusive democracy has been Nepal's guiding governance system to restore peace and move the society across all fronts: political representation, economic development, socio-cultural inclusion and empowerment. "We have taken federal, republican and secular governance as the basis for inclusive democracy and have aspired to move beyond the mechanical representation by majority and ensure voice, inclusion, identity, representation and empowerment," he said.
Economic activity in Nepal has taken newfound energy and creativity with economic growth being fairly robust despite series of natural and political disaster of the last couple of years. However, political achievements are yet to be combined with economic prosperity."We are fully aware that the achievement of socio-economic transformation of the nation and the establishment of just and prosperous society as aspired by the people is no less difficult," Dr Mahat noted.
He also said that the Nepali economy which had been suffering from more than a decade of internal conflicts and a long political transition was further crippled by the earthquakes of 2015. This destructive earthquake has, though not shattered, affected our aspiration to graduate from LDC status by 2022. There is a huge gap between the available resources and people’s expectation.
However, with the promulgation of the constitution, Nepalis feel that we have put our feet on right track of democracy and inclusiveness. And as this constitution is dynamic in true sense, genuine concerns of all sections of society can be addressed through dialogue and be accommodated in the constitution as required. "It is in tandem with this dynamic spirit of the constitution the Government has introduced a constitutional amendment bill in the Legislature Parliament," Dr Mahat said. The Government is quite serious and sensitive to the amendment of the constitution as well as holding the elections, and expects similar level of seriousness and positive efforts by all stakeholders to these ends.
Noting that economic growth and transformation were needed to sustain the achievements made in the political front, the Foreign Minister said Nepal has therefore been reaching out to her international friends and partners to continue extending their goodwill and partnership to accelerate the economic transformation of the country so that the democratic gains could be further consolidated.
Foreign Minister Dr. Mahat reached Brussels on Monday morning on a four-day long visit to the Kingdom of Belgium, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the European Union. RSS