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Religious leaders want say in constitution

Pressed the need for religious freedom at an interfaith meeting with international diplomats

Chirendra Satyal, Kathmandu

March 7, 2012

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Religious leaders yesterday met with representatives of diplomatic missions to discuss religious freedom in the country and developments in the crafting of a new constitution expected in May. Norwegian ambassador to Nepal, Alf Arne Ramslien, hosted the meeting at his diplomatic residence. Diplomats or representatives from Germany, Finland, Egypt, the European Union, France and the United States were in attendance. Pastor Kali Rokkya, secretary of the National Council of Churches and who coordinated the event, said the meeting was a good step towards a more inclusive constitution. “This historic meeting will hopefully pave the way for various religious leaders to jointly meet with local political leaders so religious issues are not neglected in the new constitution,” he said. Hanaa Ginger, a representative from UNICEF Nepal and one of five women who attended the meeting, called for joint action against any religious rites or traditions that negatively affect women and children. Nepal’s Constituent Assembly has until May 27 to approve a draft constitution as part of wider political reforms following a peace agreement with Maoist rebels in 2009.
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