Citizenship bill reaches the president again. No one knows what she’ll do next

President Bidya Devi Bhandari
President Bidya Devi Bhandari

Kathmandu, September 6

Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota on Monday approved the citizenship bill endorsed by both houses of the federal parliament by majority votes and sent it to the President’s Office for final assent.

As President Bidya Devi Bhandari had sent back the same bill to the House of Representatives suggesting a revision, which the houses refused to consider, it is not yet clear what the president will do next.

President Bhandari apparently does not want this as she had sent back the citizenship bill for a revision with a 15-point suggestion. Yet, constitutionally, she does not have any option but to approve it when a bill is sent to her for the second time.

There are speculations that the president might resign or seek the Supreme Court’s opinion, but constitutional experts are divided about the availability of such options.

The second amendment to the Citizenship Act was aimed at addressing concerns of the Madhesh-centric parties and the Non-resident Nepali Association. However, it was drawn into controversy citing the citizenship bill did not bar foreign women marrying Nepali men from getting citizenship easily.

Self-claimed nationalist activists have expressed concerns that loose citizenship provisions in Nepal could give the dominating India to gradually push its citizens to Nepal and perpetuate its control over the small county.

Consequently, President Bidya Devi Bhandari returned the citizenship bill to the parliament, suggesting a reconsideration, bringing herself into a conflict with the executive.

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