President endorses Nepal House dissolution

President Bidya Devi Bhandari has officially given her office’s formal stamp of approval to Prime Minsiter K P Oli’s reccomendation through the Cabinet on Sunday to dissolve the Lower House of the Nepal Parliament. 

The proposal had been greeted all morning with sharp and widespread condemnation, and many had said that only the office of the President and the Supreme Court could overturn the decision.

With President Bhandari’s approval, it is now up to the Supreme Court to deliberate on a writ petition that is almost certainly going to be filed on Sunday itself.

Constitutional experts, commentators and political leaders said Prime Minister Oli’s move would undermine democracy and rule of law in Nepal. Many found it a cynical and retrogressive move by Oli, who they said had put the Nepali state in jeopardy in response to an internal power struggle within his Nepal Communist Party that could easily have been resolved with dialogue and compromise..  

NCP co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been putting pressure on Oli to give up either his party leadership post, or the prime ministership. Increasingly cornered, and outnumbered in the party’s Secretariat and Standing Committee, Oli has tried every trick in the book to buy time, get Dahal loyalists to defect, threaten to split the party, or plan political distractions. 

This gambit to dissolve the Lower House was a last-ditch attempt not so much to save himself, but to get back at Dahal and his opponents within the party. Oli is gambling that the NC will go along with the dissolution and snap elections, despite denouncing the move publicly.

Protests erupted across the country against the Prime Minister’s move to dissolve the House of Representatives earlier on Sunday. Photos: BIKRAM RAI

Nevertheless, the NC has called for a protest rally outside Parliament at 4pm on Sunday itself. There have already been protests in Pokhara and elsewhere with protesters burning PM Oli in effigy.

A statement from the President’s office said that fresh snap elections to the Lower House will be held in two phases on 30 April and 10 May 2021.

A lot now hinges on the Supreme Court's decision on the dissolution, and its decision on a write petition that is expected to be filed later on Sunday, demanding that the Lower House dissolution be scrapped because of its unconstitutionality.

Seven members of PM Oli's Cabinet who are Dahal loyalists have resigned en masse from the Cabinet. They include Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai, Agriculture Minister Ghanshayam Bhusal, Forestry Minister Shakti Basnet, and Dahal's own daughter-in-law, Energy Minister Bina Magar and Energy Minister Barsha Man Pun.

Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa has not yet made up his mind.

Read previous story: Nepalis outraged by PM Oli’s move 

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