Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari today dissolved the country’s parliament on the recommendation of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli following a political stalemate over an executive order issued last week. The decision to seek the disbandment of the House of Representatives was taken at an emergency meeting of the Cabinet this morning.
Nepal’s House of Representatives, elected in 2017, has 275 members. The next general election in the Himalayan country was due in 2022. President Bhandari today announced that the national polls will now be held between April 30 and May 10 of 2021, ANI reported citing a statement from the President’s office.
“PM Oli was under pressure to withdraw an ordinance related to the Constitutional Council Act that he had issued on Tuesday and got endorsed by President Bidya Devi Bhandari the same day,” The Kathmandu Post newspaper reported today. It also said that today’s Cabinet meeting was expected to recommend the replacement of the ordinance.
Following the Prime Minister’s recommendation to dissolve the House, and President Bhandar’s nod for the same, seven of his minister resigned from the Cabinet on Sunday, ANI reported.
The ordinance to amend the Constitutional Council Act was introduced on December 15, and allegedly undermined the principle of checks and balances. It allowed the Constitutional Council to convene a meeting if a majority of its members attend it. PM Oli then held such a meeting on December 15 evening itself, according to The Kathmandu Post.
The Constitutional Council is headed by the prime minister and includes the chief justice, speaker, chairperson of the National Assembly, leader of the opposition, and the deputy speaker as its members. It recommends key appointment to various constitutional bodies.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Nepal Communist Party today said he had lost majority support, according to a Reuters report. “The prime minister has lost the majority in the parliamentary party, central committee and the secretariat of the party,” said Bishnu Rijal, a Central Committee member of the NPC, the report said.
PM Oli, whose handling of the coronavirus crisis has been criticised as the economy takes a beating, had come under pressure to either leave the premiership or the reins of the party, Reuters reported.
There is, meanwhile, a difference of opinion over the legality of dissolving the parliament since there is no such provision in the constitution and could be challenged in court, according to ANI.
“The recommendation of dissolution of the parliament is against the constitution and it should be immediately withdrawn,” senior Nepal Communist Party leader Madhav Kumar Nepal said, according to MyRepublica.
PM Oli’s move also comes amid a tussle for power with former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known as Prachanda.
Both Mr Prachanda and Madhav Nepal are likely to protest PM Oli’s recommendation to dissolve parliament and even move the Supreme court, ANI reported.