House dissolved in Nepal, mid-term polls announced

KP Sharma Oli

Media reports from Nepal said:

In a dramatic turn of events, Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on December 20, 2020 decided to dissolve the House of Representatives (HoR) and call mid-term polls to be held in two phases.

Oli, who has been mired in an intra-party feud with the rival faction of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), recommended dissolution of the HoR and President Bidhya Devi Bhandari approved it within hours. She also announced that general elections will be held on April 30 and May 10.

A press release issued by the President’s Office stated that the decision to dissolve the House was taken by the Council of Ministers in accordance with Article 76 (1) (7) and Article 85 of the constitution.

The PM’s move comes in the backdrop of the rival faction of the NCP pressuring him to step down either as PM or party cochair.

The PM had fallen into minority in all the key bodies of the party — the Secretariat, the Standing Committee and the Central Committee — and his opponents were threatening to take action against him on the basis of majority.

A few days ago, 83 NCP lawmakers had signed a petition seeking special session of Parliament, indicating that the PM might not hold majority in the party’s parliamentary party, which has 173 members.

Nepalese constitutional expert Bipin Adhikari said the PM’s move was unconstitutional and the president should not have endorsed it. Unlike the 1990 constitution, the present constitution does not have a provision that allows a majority government to dissolve the House, he added.

“Under the 1990 constitution, former prime ministers Girija Prasad Koirala and Manmohan Adhikari had used their prerogatives to dissolve the House, but under the new constitution the PM cannot dissolve the House,” he added.

Nepalese constitutional expert Chandra Kanta Gyawali claimed that the PM’s action amounted to a constitutional coup.

Former President of Nepal Bar Association Shambhu Thapa said the government could recommend dissolution of HoR only if it did not have the numbers. Actions of the PM and the president have no constitutional validity, as Oli was heading a majority government, he added.

Nepali Congress (NC) lawmaker Radhe Shyam Adhikari, who is also a senior advocate, said if all the parties agreed to go to the polls, HoR polls could take place, but if they decided to challenge the move in the court and protests broke out on the streets, the constitutional bench would have to test the constitutionality of the PM’s recommendation.

Constitutional provision to dissolve House

The HoR can be dissolved under Article 76 (1) (7) of the constitution.

It clearly states that the House can only be dissolved when no party has a clear majority and the leader chosen as prime minister by coalition partners fails to prove majority within 30 days of his/her appointment.

In such a scenario, the prime minister can recommend dissolution of the House.

However, PM KP Sharma Oli’s decision to dissolve the House does not meet any of these criteria since his party, the NCP, holds a clear majority in the 275-member HoR with 173 members.

The president can still ask the prime minister to withdraw his recommendation citing lack of its constitutional validity.

NCP leaders can go to the president claiming that they can form the government.

NCP can ask the president to call a Special Session of Parliament saying that they want to remove KP Sharma Oli as prime minister and form a new government.

Decision to dissolve the House of Representatives can be challenged in the apex court.

The president can wait for the Supreme Court to decide on the matter in case someone moves the Supreme Court seeking nullification of the prime minister’s recommendation to dissolve the House.

People take to streets against Oli’s unconstitutional move in Bara, Dhangadhi

People in Bara district in Province 2 and Dhangadhi in Sudur Pashchim Province took out rallies against the ‘unconstitutional and undemocratic’ move by PM Oli.

People from political parties including NCP, NC, Janata Samajwadi Party staged demonstrations against Oli government’s decision to dissolve HoR.

Leaders from various parties criticized PM’s move to dissolve the parliament which was approved from the Presidential office this afternoon.

In Dhangadhi, demonstration in favor of and against PM Oli were carried out.

The Youth Federation close to Oli factions took out a bike rally in favor of PM Oli whereas groups close to Dahal-Nepal protested the former’s move calling it anti-national.

Both the sides have called for provincial level programs to condemn/ support the government’s recent act that was endorsed by the President.

An earlier report said:

The HoR is now dissolved with President Bidya Devi Bhandari approving government’s recommendation forwarded earlier today.

Issuing a statement on Sunday, December 20, the Office of the President stated that President has approved the recommendation of the Council of Ministers, stepping on Article 76 (1) and (7) and Article 85 of the constitution.

Earlier on Sunday, following the emergency meeting summoned by PM Oli, the cabinet had decided to recommend house dissolution. The decision came in the wake of deepening crisis within the ruling NCP.

Dahal-Nepal faction lawmakers called for meeting

NCP’s co chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal have called a meeting of the lawmakers close to their faction at the Federal Parliament premises, this afternoon.

The meeting follows the dissolution of parliament and resignation of seven ministers en masse on Sunday.

PM Oli has also called the lawmakers close to him of the now dissolved house for a meeting in Baluwatar.

The main opposition party NC too has called an all-party meet to discuss the chain of events.

NCP lawmakers of now defunct House close to Oli gather at Baluwatar

Lawmakers of ruling party of the now dissolved HoR close to PM and party co-chair KP Sharma Oli have gathered at the PM’s official residence in Baluwatar.

The PM had summoned members of the defunct House in the faction led by him within the party to a meeting to brief them about his December 20 step to dissolve the parliament and announce mid-term elections.

Deputy PM Ishwar Pokhrel, Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel, former speaker Subas Nembang, among others, were present at the meeting.

However, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, who did not resign en mass along with other ministers from erstwhile Maoist Centre, was not present at the meeting. On the contrary, Ministry of Industries, Commerce and Supplies Lekhraj Bhatta is the only person from the erstwhile Maoist Centre present at the same.

Dahal reaches Baluwatar ahead of NCP’s Standing Committee meeting

Co-chairperson of the ruling NCP Pushpa Kamal Dahal has reached PM’s official residence in Baluwatar for the second time, this time ahead of the meeting of the Standing Committee (SC).

Dahal left for Baluwatar upon holding consultations with top leaders of the party at his Khumaltar residence to conduct the SC meeting following the PM’s decision to dissolve the House of Representatives.

Earlier in the day, Dahal visited Baluwatar in a failed attempt to talk to Oli ahead of the Cabinet meeting wherein the recommendation was forwarded.

The SC meeting is expected to take some decision surrounding the PM’s sudden Sunday move.

All-round criticism for PM’s house dissolution move

Early on Sunday, Ministers of the Oli government received a circular to attend the emergency meeting of the cabinet. At the very meeting, the PM Oli recommended the dissolution of the HoR of the Federal Parliament.

The PM had made the move following a series of political meetings with top leaders of the ruling Nepali Communist Party and a few ministers of his cabinet on Saturday. The decision came as Oli was losing edge and was cornered within the party amid a long-standing factional war.

Upon wrapping up the meeting of the Council of Ministers, PM Oli took off for Shital Niwas where he briefed the President of the government’s decision and, it has been learnt, discussed a possible date for a fresh election.

However, the PM’s move has not gone down too well will the opposition parties, constitutional experts and public.

Main opposition party NC has said the PM’s move to dissolve the parliament is authoritarian and that the party will resist it.

The NC said it would politically resist the PM’s action and has urged people to act together to protect the constitution and the democratic system. The party, following reports of the dissolution, called an emergency meeting of the office-bearers on Sunday.

Leaders from the ruling party itself have expressed dissent over the PM’s decision and have suggested that this step must be corrected. Party spokesperson Narayankaji Shrestha said that the recommendation to dissolve the house was unconstitutional, authoritarian, undemocratic as well as a step toward regression.

Baburam Bhattarai

Former PM and chairperson of the Janata Samajwadi Party’s Federal Council Baburam Bhattarai has urged all democratic forces to unite against PM Oli’s move to dissolve the House of Representatives.

Rashtriya Prajatantra Party too has called an emergency meeting of the party to discuss the PM’s move while the Sajha Bibeksheel Party has planned demonstrations at Baluwatar, near the PM’s official residence.

Constitutional experts have said the constitution does not allow a prime minister to dissolve the House unless there is a situation that the House cannot elect the PM with majority support.

Members of public too have taken to social media to express their displeasure over Oli government’s sudden move.

The NC has said the PM’s move to dissolve the parliament is authoritarian and that the party will resist it.

NC said it would politically resist the PM’s action and has urged people to act together to protect the constitution and the democratic system.

NC will foil the last ditch effort of PM’s authoritarian aspirations, party’s spokesperson Bishwaprakash Sharma shared on Twitter.




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