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SAGGC for political consensus on citizenship

The parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee is waiting for political parties to forge consensus on some crucial provisions of the citizenship bill.

Panel members said they wanted top leaders of the parties to agree on the kind of citizenship for children of Nepali mothers married to foreign men and the nature of rights for NRN citizens, among other issues.

Province 2 Assembly has requested Parliament to pass the bill immediately saying thousands of people were unable to enrol in schools, colleges and get jobs without citizenship. Children of citizens by birth and children of Nepali mothers married to foreign men living in Nepal, have not been able to get citizenship due to non-enactment of the new citizenship law.

According to SAGGC members, it is not easy for the committee alone to finalise citizenship provisions of the bill. “It’s not just a bill, it also reflects the country’s interests,” one panel member told THT.

SAGGC Chairperson Shashi Shrestha said panel members would consult leaders of political parties on some crucial issues of the bill to forge consensus. The bill proposes three types of citizenship: by descent, naturalised citizenship and Non-resident Nepali citizenship.

The committee has discussed with lawmakers who registered amendments to the bill and also rights activists and concerned organisations.

“We have heard grievances and suggestions. From next week we will discuss each provision of the bill,” Shrestha said. “We will ensure that no Nepali citizen is deprived of citizenship certificate,” she added.

The government registered the bill on August 7 and clause-wise discussion started from August 20. The bill will be presented to the full House only after the panel finalises it.

“There should be political consensus on some provisions,” said Nepali Congress lawmaker Devendra Raj Kandel. He also said the bill should check outsiders from obtaining Nepali citizenship.

Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal lawmaker Rajkishor Yadav said the panel was taking too long to finalise the bill. “Some people want to divert the issues and some don’t know the issue at all. They are obstructing the process,” he said. He also said they had already discussed this issue with the PM. “If provisions of the bill don’t address genuine issues, the bill won’t serve the purpose,” he said.

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