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Report on one day program for

Creating Awareness among the Media persons on Constituent Assembly

Organised by Nepal Press Union (NPU)

Role of Press in Constituent Assembly Elections in Nepal (Keynote address by Dev Raj Dahal)

4 March 2008


A one day workshop was conducted by Nepal Press Union Central Committee on the 11th Chaitra 2064(4th March 2008) at Committee's Central office's Hall at Kathmandu. The program was supported by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office.

Objectives of the program

Followings were major objectives of the program:

  • To create awareness in relation with constitutional Assembly among journalists
  • To ensure role of journalists in the all process of Constituent Assembly

Followings Outcomes were expected from the program

  • Awareness among journalist on Constituent Assembly
  • Role of journalist and individual who support the issue in CA process as voter, candidates and elected member and social interpreter.

Participants

The participants of the program were the journalists' representative from various media houses.

The program was divided into two sessions. The first session was Inauguration and introductory session and second session was Paper presentation and discussion on CA. The moderator of the program was Mr. Shiva Lamsal, Secretary of Nepal Press Union, Central committee and the Chairperson of the first session was Mr. Shamirjung Saha, Chairperson of The Nepal Press Union Central Committee.

Welcome

In the starting of the program Mr. Damodar Pr. Dawadi, vice president of Nepal Press Union, Central Committee welcomed to all participants for their valuable time and deep concern on this issue. He further thanked to the Chief Guest of the program Mr. Prakashman Shingh, Leader Nepali Congress other guests and paper presentator and all participants of the Program.

Remarks from Guests:

Mr. Prakashman Singh, Vice- president, Nepali Congress: First of all Mr. Singh thanked to the organizer for this valuable program and he said that we have got an opportunity to get back the lost rights in 2007 B. S. he further said that in the past, the election of Constitution Assembly could not be held because of the king. The nation lagged 57 years behind. The media should, thus, create a people's mandate for CA. The democratic alliance should make the new constitution for making it democratic. People should cast votes in the leadership of Nepali Congress. Congress has solved Maoist rebellion and Terai movement. It is also necessary that the news be published by communication media for creating public awareness about the firstly introduced electronic voting machine in Nepal. At last he requested to the journalist to play vital role for Making CA Election successful.

Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat, Center Committee Member, Nepali Congress: He also thanked to the organizer and said that media should play vital role for making CA successful as it played the role in people's movement. The media should invigilate actively for making election free and fair. It is the duty of government and political parties to create an environment to the voters for casting their votes safely and it is the duty of media people to caution them. The democratic candidates should be elected for making democratic constitution. Such a democratic front is Nepali Congress. However, there must be representation of all parties and all factions of society in CA. For creating such an environment is the job of media people.

Mr. Harihar Birahi, Senior Journalist: Mr. Birahi said that CA is an opportunity for liberation of all Nepali. CA should be taken for developing democratic norms rather than for acquiring power. Nowadays, taking advantage of transitional period, even ultra rightists are looking so democratic and criminals who killed journalists are looking great freedom seekers for the press.

Bishnu Nisthuri, President of Federation of Nepalese Journalist: He said, CA is going to be assembled for managing movement. CA is a test for communication media too. It will be clear through their role that how professional they will be in CA election. Everyone should achieve victory in CA through democratic constitution. The federation of journalists also is going to monitor during CA election period. The press council is also active to monitor the role of communication media in this regard. The result of the monitoring will be published right after the CA election.

Mr. Samir Jung Shah, President of Nepal Press Union, Central Committee: From the Chair desk he said that it is time for the journalists to play the role of watchdog for CA election. The communication media has to play special role in CA election by conserving professionalism and press freedom.

Mr. Kashiraj Dahal: Chairperson of Administrative Court: Mr. Dahal made his presentation paper on creating awareness on CA and Role of JMedia People. He said that CA is going to be held for validating the prevailing liquid political situation of the country. Media has to play an important role in deriving constitution, ruling system, federalism etc while framing new constitution. Particularly, the media should monitor and invigilate whether the CA is for people and nation or not. While executing federalism there should not be conflict among the states for allocating natural resources. The major conflict that appears among the states is to divide the natural resources. For deriving democratic constitution, campaigning is necessary. In case democratic constitution is not formulated, even the fourth organ of the state may lose the rights for freedom of press.

He further said that it is convenient to make constitution after the election of CA provided there is political consensus about the fundamental contents of new constitution. There must be political consensus about how many states there will be and how the states will be divided.

Mr. Devraj Dahal, Country Head, FES: Mr. Dahal made his presentation on State's restructuring and role of Media people. He stressed that the main aim of CA should be to install people based democracy, inclusive structure of states and sustainable peace. The states should not be divided on the basis of race, region and class. While dividing states in federal system, civic states should be made. As per the manifesto prepared by some political parties in CA election, it is felt that new constitution will be of socialist structure.

He further said regarding the media people role on CA election that the communication media should give priority to civic education for making people aware on constitution assembly. There is always conflict between democracy and constitutionalism. Democracy advocates freedom. On the other hand, constitutionalism insists on the point that every activity should be within the legal framework.

Commenter:

After the paper presentation by resource persons a hot discussion was held. Participants were actively participated for that session.

Ms. Radha Chalise: At beginning of her comment she briefed on the how media people can play active role on CA election and further said that Communication media should go ahead by clarifying what CA should do. No discussion has been made about the constitution to be framed after CA election. The discussion was necessary about how to make the election of CA participatory. The media should take seriously about how to maintain the increasing trend of people's trust towards it.

Mr. Shiv Lamsal: He made his short comment on the role of communication media that should be clear before CA election. The discussion is required for the rights of communication media in constitution after CA.

Mr. Santosh Subedi: There is no awareness in local level about CA. The rural people have not been clear about CA. It is found that the candidates have been campaigning the CA election by considering it to be regular parliamentary election.

Mr. Bal Krishna Adhikari: Whether the parliament can amend the constitution made by CA or not? If it can be amended what is the rationale of CA election? He again raised the question what points can be changed while amendment if any? He requested to the resources person to answer all his questions.

Mr. Khila Karki: What should be the ruling system? How should be the federalism? It is said that political consensus is required to decide about them. He raised the question that if all the issues of CA are settled through political consensus before CA election why to elect CA?

Mr. Mahendra Shrestha: Even the candidates are not clear about constitution assembly. They have considered it to acquisition of power to reach to the government.

After the Discussion and comments from participants the resource persons answered to all the question's of participants. At the end of the program Mr. Samirjung saha, Chairperson of the program again thanked to chief guest, guest, Resource persons and all participants for their active participation on the program and he announced the end of the program.

 
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