Nepal opposition parties mull options to oust Oli as political crisis deepens

PTI, May 21, 2021, 3:54 PM IST

Kathmandu: Nepal’s opposition parties met on Friday to chalk out the future course of action to oust Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and resolve the current political crisis after the embattled premier expressed unwillingness to undergo another floor test to prove his government’s majority in Parliament.

The meeting came a day after Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari urged the political parties in the country to stake a claim to form a new government.

The President has given parties a deadline until 5:00 pm on Friday to form a new government, at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli.

According to a press release issued by the president’s office on Thursday, the government decided to pave the way for the formation of a new government as Prime Minister Oli, who is required to seek a vote of confidence within 30 days, thinks that the situation is no different from the one that existed on May 10 when the 69-year-old leader lost the trust vote in the House of Representatives.

The meeting of the opposition alliance was underway at the residence of Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba.

Top leaders of Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) and Upendra Yadav-led faction of the Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) were attending the meeting.

A senior leader of the ruling CPN-UML, Madhav Kumar Nepal, has also reached Deuba’s residence for the meeting.

A senior NC leader said they are considering all possible options to oust Prime Minister KP Oli from power as he is involved in violating the constitutional norms and values, reported.

”President Bhandari is also supporting all unconstitutional moves of Prime Minister Oli,” the senior leader said.

”Discussions are underway whether to file an impeachment motion against the President,” he said.

The Nepali Congress earlier said the decision of Prime Minister Oli not to seek a vote of confidence in parliament as per Article 76(4) and ask President Bhandari to pave the way for forming a new government as per Article 76(5) is ‘unconstitutional.’

The party has maintained that the Prime Minister must resign from his post if Article 76(5) is to come into effect.

Prior to the meeting with other opposition party leaders, the NC had held a meeting of the party’s office-bearers to forge new strategies.

The meeting concluded that both Prime Minister Oli and President Bhandari were involved in unconstitutional moves and were seeking to sabotage the Constitution and derail the ongoing political course.

Experts also say the Oli government and the President both have violated the Constitution.

“If that is the recommendation, it goes beyond the norms of the parliamentary system. The prime minister should resign to complete the course before recommending the government formation under any other article of the Constitution,” Bipin Adhikari, former dean of Kathmandu University School of Law, told the Kathmandu Post.

The president’s latest call comes after the ruling party’s candidate for Upper House in Bagmati Pradesh lost the election clearly indicating that Oli doesn’t possess majority support in Parliament.

Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa lost the election to the rival candidate of the ruling party Khim Lal Devkuta during Thursday’s election.

As per Article 76 (5) of the Constitution, any lawmaker who commands a majority in the Lower House can stake claim to form the government.

At present, any lawmaker who stakes a claim to form the government will need the support of 136 lawmakers in the 275-member House of Representatives.

Oli’s CPN-UML is the largest party in the House with 121 seats. The NC has 61 and the CPN-MC 49 lawmakers in the House.

Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 last year after President Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

Oli’s move to dissolve the House sparked protests from a large section of the NCP led by his rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda.’

In February, the apex court reinstated the dissolved House, in a setback to Oli who was preparing for snap polls.

As parliamentary politics is rife with number games, Nepal grapples with shortages of medical supplies, mismanagement of the situation by the state, spiking infections and fatalities amid the raging second wave of the pandemic.

Nepal on Thursday reported 8,227 new coronavirus cases, taking the nationwide infection tally to 488,645.

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