Citizenship from either of Nepali parents

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KATHMANDU, JUN 11 – In a historic step towards ensuring gender equality, the major parties represented in Constituent Assembly (CA) on Wednesday agreed to incorporate in a new constitution the stipulation of granting citizenship to the applicant through either of the parents (mother or father) who holds a Nepali citizenship.

“Parties have agreed to incorporate father or mother regarding citizenship provision in the new constitution.  It is a leap forward towards achieving gender equality,” tweeted Baburam Bhattarai, the chairman of the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee (PDCC), a sub-panel of which had made the provision possible.

According to the agreement, people who get citizenship under the new provision will have to stay in Nepal for at least 10 years to contest for ministerial election or assume position in public offices.

Women rights activists have hailed the decision and said that it has sent the message that women are equal citizens of this country.

Although the Citizenship Act (2006) and the Interim Constitution (2007) allow the child of a Nepali mother or a father to become a Nepali citizen by descent, the citizenship draft bill prepared in 2012 by the first CA had included the clause that said both parents must be Nepali citizens for their children to acquire Nepali citizenship.

The draft prepared by the Drafting Committee in the second CA last year had also incorporated the same clause with the “and” provision which had drawn criticisms from some political parties and women rights groups.

Women rights activists have been demanding that the “and” conjunction in the clause regarding the issue of citizenship be replaced by “or”. On January 12 this year, the PDCC had come close to proposing the “or” conjunction to the clause, but it was stalled after senior UML leaders, including KP Sharma Oli, and Madhav Kumar Nepal backed out on their commitment to do so.