Nepal Celebrates New Constitution amid Protests
September 24, 2015
Nepal has officially ushered in a new era for the nation after President Ram Baran Yadav signed the country’s new constitution on Sept. 20.
Citizens expressed mixed emotions after the historic event. Much of the country cheered, celebrating the nation’s attempt to move forward and bring peace after decades of instability, which included a 10-year civil war that dissolved the nation’s monarchy in 2008. Others continued to protest, unhappy with certain articles in the constitution that they believe put them at a disadvantage.
The new constitution officially divides the country into seven federal states, or provinces, and allows each state to have its own legislature. The borders of these states have yet to be determined. Many of Nepal’s ethnic minorities living in the southern regions have protested this division, fearing it will lead to further marginalization and little political representation.
The constitution also makes Nepal a secular nation after centuries of being a Hindu kingdom. The country’s secularism affords its citizens the right to freely practice, profess and preserve their religion according to their faith. However, the constitution also makes it illegal to perform any act that is seen as “disturb[ing] the religion of other people.”
The issue of citizenship has also sparked contention, especially among the women of Nepal. The constitution allows a father to pass on his Nepali citizenship to his children, but those born to Nepali women who are married to foreign citizens can attain citizenship only by naturalization.
Nepal’s current governing officials say amendments can be made to the constitution to address any discontentment. President Yadav has asked Prime Minister Sushil Koirala to open talks with the disgruntled parties in an effort to quell the unrest.
Please pray for:
- The government of Nepal as it works to implement the new constitution.
- Wisdom for Nepal’s leaders.
- Grace and peace for the people of Nepal.
- Discernment and wisdom for believers as they live out their faith in Jesus.
September 18, 2015
Pastor Threatened After Church Bombings, Nepal Passes New Constitution
On Wednesday, Sept. 16, Nepal's Constituent Assembly voted 507 to 25 in favor of passing the final draft of the constitution.
The constitution keeps Nepal a secular nation while dividing it into seven provinces, a major issue of contention among minority ethnic groups, especially in the southern region, who fear they will be further marginalized by the division.
After the constitution passed, more protests break out as disgruntled citizens expressed their disapproval of the outcome. The violence left four more people dead.
In an isolated case, five Nepali police officers are protecting a Gospel for Asia-supported pastor after discovering an opposition group plans to target him and his church. The threat came after two other Christian churches in the region were bombed by citizens angry with the Constituent Assembly's vote to keep Nepal a secular nation.
The pastor, Champak, leads a church of 300 believers, the largest church in the area. The police asked Champak and his family to stay home for five days, while they keep guard over his house and the church.
Champak has served this region since 2002. He faced difficulties his first few years, but with continued prayer, the Lord grew his ministry.
Please pray for:
- God's peace to settle upon the people of Nepal.
- Wisdom for the governing authorities as they move forward with implementing Nepal's new constitution after presenting it on Sunday, Sept. 20.
- Safety for Pastor Champak, his family and the believers.
- Wisdom and discernment for Christian leaders in Nepal.
September 15, 2015
Vote to Keep Nepal Secular Nation Heightens Violence, Ministry Efforts Crippled
On Sunday, Sept. 13, the Constituent Assembly (CA) of Nepal began voting on the final draft of the country's constitution, reviewing each clause and any proposed amendments.
After more than two-thirds of the CA rejected a call to revert the country to a Hindu nation, clashes broke out between police officials and protesters. Some extremists in favor of the amendment bombed two churches, damaging the buildings' windows. No one was harmed, although religious minorities now feel threatened.
This was one of many strikes and clashes that have resulted in the death of at least 40 people because of disagreements over the proposed final draft of the constitution.
One major area of concern for certain marginalized groups is the proposal to split Nepal into seven federal provinces. These groups believe the new provinces will limit their political representation in the country and lead to further marginalization.
Gospel for Asia-supported field correspondents in Nepal say the outbreaks of violence and tension, especially in the southern regions, have hindered ministry efforts. Curfews and strikes that have shut down roads have made travel nearly impossible. Gospel for Asia-supported Bridge of Hope centers also have been temporarily closed.
The CA hopes to present the new constitution on September 20 after voting is completed.
Correspondents ask prayer for:
- The Lord to give His children security, peace, wisdom and knowledge during this time of tension.
- God to grant wisdom to leaders and governing officials.
Initial Report - July 20, 2015
Religious Freedom in Nepal at Risk
The country of Nepal is actively working to finalize its constitution.
An interim constitution has governed Nepal after the country's monarchy was dispelled in 2007. After the recent earthquakes, the current Constituent Assembly of Nepal quickly began working on the constitution in an effort to speed up the reconstruction process and reassure citizens they are able to effectively respond to crises.
The government recently distributed 200,000 copies of the preliminary draft to the public, affording citizens the opportunity to suggest changes. On July 23, a report containing the public's feedback will be sent to the Constituent Assembly.
They hope to ratify the constitution by mid-August.
There have been riots and protests concerning the draft. Many people are demanding Nepal return to its traditional religious roots.
Right now, religious minorities in the country fear their freedom to practice and share their faith will be severely restricted if the current draft of the constitution goes unchanged.
Please pray for:
- The governing authorities will be guided by wisdom as they work to finalize Nepal's constitution.
- God's people will be granted freedom to worship.
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