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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Nepal Constitution’s lacunae helps Oli retain power

With Nepal plunging into a political and constitutional crisis less than six years later after Prime Minister K P Oli dissolving Parliament mid-term, the Constitution seems inadequate, with its ambiguities appearing heavily loaded to favour incumbency.

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire | Kathmandu |
March 3, 2021 4:30:11 am
Nepal Constitution’s lacunae helps Oli retain powerNepal Prime Minister KP Oli now claims that he has become more powerful after the court declared his move to dissolve Parliament null and void. (File)

When Nepal’s Constitution was promulgated in September 2015, leaders cutting across party lines praised it, calling it the “best in the world” with “all inclusive features”.

However, with the country plunging into a political and constitutional crisis less than six years later after Prime Minister K P Oli dissolving Parliament mid-term– a move overturned by the Supreme Court — the Constitution seems inadequate, with its ambiguities appearing heavily loaded to favour incumbency.

With the court passing its verdict, the reinstated House is set to meet on Sunday, which is well within the 13-day deadline stipulated in the judgement. However, Oli now claims that he has become more powerful after the court declared his move to dissolve Parliament null and void.

“If they remove me through no-confidence motion, I will come back with two-thirds majority in the next elections,” Oli told a mass meeting in Jhapa district on Tuesday, implying he is neither ready to step down from his post on moral grounds nor seek a vote of confidence in the House.

Instead, he seems to imply, he has left it to his opponents to move a no-trust motion.

Cabinet Spokesperson and Communication Minister Parbat Gurung went to the extent of saying that Oli “cannot resign following the court verdict” — something not mentioned anywhere in the verdict or in the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the two NCP factions are waiting for the Election Commission to decide which side gets to keep the existing party name and symbol.

Interestingly, the faction of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and Madhav Kumar Nepal, which had given notice for a no-trust motion on December 19, now appears reluctant to push for the same on Sunday.

“We are considering removing him from the post first, and then seek recognition as a different group in the House, but we will move a no-trust motion only if we are confident about dislodging Oli with the support of other parties,” a senior leader of the Dahal-Nepal faction said.

Any party moving a no-trust motion shall have to name the person they wish to replace Oli as the Prime Minister, but since the NCP has not officially split, Oli continues to be the leader of the parliamentary party.

If Parliament is hung, then other provisions of the Constitution will be attracted, and any party or a coalition of parties may replace Oli.

Their failure to do so will favour Oli’s continuation as Prime Minister.

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