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Nepal: Model Constitution Published, Discussions on New Constitution Underway

(June 11, 2009) It was reported that under a model constitution proposed on May 21, 2009, Nepal would have a parliamentary form of government, with a Prime Minister and a President. The territory of the new Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal would be divided into seven autonomous provinces governed by separate administrative units; the 75 districts would remain but have “relatively more autonomy.” The legislative bodies envisioned by the document at the federal level are a 205-member parliament and a 64-member national assembly. (Seven Autonomous Provinces Proposed, EKANTIPUR.COM, May 22, 2009, available at

Other highlights of the model constitution, which was drafted and made public by the country's Consortium of Constitutional Experts, include: the incorporation of new rights, such as the right to diplomatic protection, rights of juveniles and of senior citizens, and the right to inclusion; rejection of dual citizenship; retention of the current national flag; and recognition of the cow as the national animal. According to the chief author of the draft document, Bipin Adhikari, it is “intended to help stimulate rational discussion on core constitutional issues facing the country” and “could be a basis for discussion among lawmakers and experts.” (Id.) Dr. Adhikari is a lawyer, a former U.N. legal expert, and a leading Nepali expert on constitutional law. The model constitution is 190 pages long and comprises 26 parts, 292 sections, and seven annexes. (Leaders for Embracing Voices of All Minorities, The Model Constitution of Nepal, 2009 blog, May 29, 2009, available at

In related news, it was reported on June 5, 2009, that the Constituent Assembly's 43-member Committee on Determination of Forms of Governance of the State has agreed on the structure for local government to be adopted under the new constitution. The proposal calls for a five- to seven-member executive body at the village level, a five- to nine-member executive at the municipality and sub-metropolis levels, and a five- to 11-member executive for metropolises, with the chairs and vice- chairs of these bodies be directly elected and one of the candidates, for chair or for vice-chair, to be a woman. (EKANTIPUR.COM, supra.) The Constituent Assembly, which is authorized under the Interim Constitution of Nepal to draft the new constitution, was directly elected by the country's eligible voters on April 10, 2008. (Constituent Assembly, Nepal Constituent Assembly Portal, (last visited June 8, 2009).)

The Committee also agreed to adopt a mixed electoral system for local legislative elections. Under the proposal, 70 percent of the members of the local legislatures would be elected through a “first past the post” system and 30 percent through proportional representation. The Committee has determined that the new constitution would provide for three forms of government – central, federal, and local – and the Committee will now turn to a discussion of the structure of the first two and of the electoral system to be adopted for each, according to panel member Mukunda Sharma. (CA Panel Finalises Local Govt, EKANTIPUR.COM, June 5, 2009, available at

The Nepal Constituent Assembly Portal has links to texts of Nepal's past constitutions (including the Interim Constitution of 2007) in English translation, among a number of other features. (See (last visited June 7, 2009).)