Ethnic protesters reject Nepal government proposal

AP News
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Posted: Dec 22, 2015 11:09 AM

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A group of ethnic protesters rejected on Tuesday a proposal from Nepal's government to end months of conflict that has resulted in shortages of fuel and other supplies and the deaths of 50 people.

The United Democratic Madhesi Front said in a statement that the government proposal to amend the constitution is incomplete and unclear, and they would continue their protest.

The group said the proposal does not address their concerns and that the government was not serious about their demands.

The proposal, announced over the weekend and welcomed by neighboring India, was aimed at ending the protests by ethnic Madhesis in southern Nepal.

The government said it would amend the constitution to address a Madhesi demand for greater representation in the administration and change electoral constituencies on the basis of population. However, in response to a demand for a larger Madhesi state, the government proposed a political mechanism that would submit a report within three months.

Ethnic Madhesis have been protesting for months against Nepal's new constitution. They say it unfairly divides the Himalayan country into seven states with borders that cut through their ancestral homeland. They want the states to be larger and to be given more autonomy over local matters.

At least 50 people have been killed in the protests since August and hundreds more have been injured.

Talks between the protesting groups and the government have made little progress, but both sides say they will continue talking.