Saturday’s Secretariat meeting of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) decided to make foreign women married to Nepali men eligible for matrimonial naturalized citizenship only after a seven years’ wait period.
The existing provision under Clause 5.1 of the Citizenship Act allows foreign women married to Nepali men obtain naturalized citizenship as soon as they inform the concerned government offices that they have renounced their original citizenship.
The main opposition Nepali Congress and the Janata Samajwadi Party-Nepal have opposed the NCP’s decision and are in favor of the existing provision.
According to NCP Secretariat member Narayan Kaji Shrestha, the decision for seven-year waiting period was made because the party believed that a waiting period is necessary for foreign women married to Nepali men to understand the country better and increase their sense of loyalty to the nation.
Moreover, the all-male NCP secretariat comprised of 99 percent Khas- Arya men — including Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli as and Pushpa Kamal Dahal as Chairpersons, Bishnu Prasad Rimal as General Secretary, and Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal, Bamdev Gautam, Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Ishwor Pokhrel and Ram Bahadur Thapa as members — taking a decision which mostly concern women has failed to address the lack of any provision for foreign men who marry Nepali women.
At present, foreign men have to spend a minimum of 15 years in Nepal before being eligible to apply for naturalized citizenship.
Several women NCP lawmakers have argued that issues of restriction for naturalized citizens were debated in both the first and second Constituent Assemblies and they were settled when the new constitution was promulgated in 2015, and hence the wait period was in violation of the spirit of the constitution.