Nepal’s seven-month-old government headed by Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli faces an imminent exit as a new alliance, that has emerged suddenly with clear majority in the House, has served it a quit notice.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”, the leader of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the second-largest constituent in the coalition government, Wednesday met Prime Minister Oli and asked him to join “the government under my leadership since the Nepali Congress, the main opposition and the biggest party in the House, has decided to extend its support to me”.
The rift in the government — between Prachanda’s UCPN(M) and Oli’s Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) — has widened as the Parliament in session waits for the President’s address that would unfold the government programmes, policies as well as the budget in the next 72 hours.
Taken aback by the fast moving political developments, Oli began consulting constitutional experts and also paid a visit to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari in the evening. Although the Constitution does not have the provision for dissolution of the House or fresh elections before May next year, he was losing numbers crucial to run the government.
Oli held a dinner meeting with the Maoist chief Tuesday to mend ties but the PM’s efforts appear to have failed.
Prachanda also won the support of the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) that had launched a protest movement against the Oli government for five months after the promulgation of the Constitution on September 20 last year. “We will extend our support to any candidate that the Nepali Congress and its leader decide to back at this moment,” UDMF sources said.
A series of closed-door meetings between Prachanda and Nepali Congress chief Sher Bahadur Deuba came to a conclusion that Oli’s exit was “necessary to bring political order” in the country. “If the CPN-UML sees reason, and rises above its partisan interest, it should support me to form a national government,” Prachanda said.
However, Oli told his party that they must respond to the situation in a “befitting manner”, and reportedly refused to entertain the idea of quitting. A group within the CPN-UML, meanwhile, is insisting that Oli “must go for dissolution of the House and order fresh elections and continue as the Prime Minister, instead of succumbing to the demands for a new alliance.”
But if Oli decides to relent, that will pave the way for Prachanda’s return as the Prime Minister, seven years after he had quit following President’s “veto” upsetting his decision to sack chief of the Army Rukmangud Katawal.
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