Nepal President dissolves lower house, calls for fresh elections in November

Nepal Politics
Members of parliament sit as they begin session in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sunday, March 7, 2021. Nepal’s Parliament reinstated by the nation's Supreme Court began session on Sunday that would likely determine the future of the prime minister and government. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

KATHMANDU: Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari has dissolved the country’s House of Representatives on the recommendation of the cabinet and called for fresh elections in November.

The President’s office in the wee hours of Saturday issued a release announcing the dissolution of house for the second time as per Article 76 (7) of the Constitution of Nepal.
The next election will be held on November 12 and 19 as per the recommendation of the Cabinet.

Article 76 (7) of the Constitution states “If the Prime Minister appointed according to clause (5) fails to get the vote of confidence or if any member fails to be appointed as Prime Minister, the President shall, on the recommendation of Prime Minister, dissolve the House of Representatives and fix a date to conduct another election within six months.”

Calling an emergency Cabinet meeting just minutes after President Bhandari said that neither Oli nor Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba can be appointed the next PM, Oli recommended President Bhandari to dissolve the House and hold the election in two stages on November 12 and 19.

Ahead of the declaration of fresh elections, President Bhandari also announced none of the claims by incumbent caretaker Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba’s claim over next PM will be accepted.

The reason given was that Oli cannot be appointed PM as 26 lawmakers of CPN-UML and 12 of Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) that he (Oli) included in his claim to contend support of 153 House of Representatives (HoR) members have signed in support of Deuba.

Also, the President argued that Deuba cannot be appointed as UML Chairman and the parliamentary party leader has written not to recognise signatures of 26 UML lawmakers. Oli also wrote to the President stating, the lawmakers who are attempting “floor-crossing” will be punished for indiscipline in a way that they will not even remain member of the Lower House.

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Along with Chairman Mahantha Thakur and Parliamentary leader Rajendra Mahato of Janata Samajbadi Party also wrote to President Bhandari requesting not to recognize signatures of 12 JSP lawmakers. They claimed that those lawmakers have signed against the dignity of the party.

Oli on Friday afternoon staked claim first claiming that he has support of 153 HoR members including 121 CPN-UML lawmakers and 32 of Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) just a day after telling President Bhandari to go for formation of new government in accordance with Article 76(5) of the Constitution pointing out he does not have numbers to pass the floor test.

Likewise, NC President Deuba then reached Shital Niwas with list of 149 lawmakers including 26 lawmakers from the Khanal-Nepal faction of UML, 12 of the Yadav-Bhattarai faction of JSP and one from Rashtriya Janamorcha. UML lawmaker Madhav Kumar Nepal, and others who Oli claimed support him were present in person when Deuba submitted his claim.

The opposition leaders left the Shital Niwas at five in the afternoon after the deadline given by President Bhandari for formation of the new government as per Article 76(5) of the Constitution expired.

The current strength of HoR is 271 after Maoist Centre expelled four lawmakers who joined CPN-UML after the Supreme Court (SC) invalidated unification of UML and Maoist Centre on March 7.

UML in the dissolved parliament had 121 lawmakers including those of the Khanal-Nepal faction, NC 63 (but two are suspended), Maoist Centre has 49 (including Speaker), JSP 34 (including two suspended) and three lawmakers are independent. (ANI)