More than half a century in the making: Nepal enshrines new constitution

Story highlights

  • Nepal tries to put decades of political strife behind it with the enshrinement of its new constitution
  • An overwhelming majority of its lawmaking body supports the document
  • Vocal minority groups say they were excluded from the process, and that the constitution will work against their interests

(CNN)Nepalis, shaken by two devastating earthquakes this year, and against a backdrop of more than half a century of political strife now have something major to cherish: the South Asian nation has put the world's newest constitution into effect.

As an editorial in one of the leading Nepali newspapers put it, "Nepalis are now truly sovereign citizens."

    What has changed?

      The Himalayan nation was never colonized and has always remained a sovereign state. So, what is new? "The previous constitutions were made at the ruler's disposal and overshadowed by the interests of the monarchy and the army," political analyst Sanjeev Pokharel tells CNN.
      "For the first time in history, Nepalis are sovereign in the true sense of the term."
      The long fight of Nepalis to have a constitution written by representatives of the people is over. The fight that lasted 65 years, saw a civil war and multiple major revolutions -- along with a century-old monarchy toppled in the process.
      The new constitution, which took more than seven years to draft, was overwhelmingly endorsed in the constitutional assembly -- a constitution-making body comprised of 601 elected lawmakers. The three prominent parties -- Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) -- collaborated for the majority while few other smaller opposing parties either voted against, or boycotted the process.

      "Matter of pride"

      Prime Minister Sushil Koirala tweeted "it is a matter of pride for all Nepalis that the constitutional assembly has approved the people's constitution."
      The civil war, instigated by Maoist rebels, lasted for 10 years, from 1996 to 2006 and claimed more than 15,000 lives. With the signing of the constituton, it is also now officially over. "This constitution can also be hailed as a peaceful resolution to the Maoist insurgency," according to Pokharel.
      The country which is greater than 80% of the population Hindu --