Nepal president calls all-party meeting amid political crisis

·4-min read

Kathmandu, Mar 16 (PTI) Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari has called an all-party meeting on Tuesday to discuss contemporary issues amid the political crisis that has gripped the country, with the ruling CPN-UML factions, including the one led by Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, making last-ditch efforts to strike a deal to sustain the government, according to media reports on Tuesday.

Tika Dhakal, a senior communication expert at the Office of the President, said that President Bhandari has called a meeting of leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament as well as former prime ministers to discuss contemporary politics, the Kathmandu Post reported.

The parties represented in the Nepal Parliament that will attend the meeting are Prime Minister Oli's CPN-UML, Nepali Congress led by Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal, CPN-Maoist Centre led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', Janata Samajbadi Party, Rashtriya Prajatantra Party, Rashtriya Janamorcha and Nepal Majdoor Lisa Party.

The meeting comes amid a political crisis triggered by Prime Minister Oli's dissolution of the House of Representatives in December. However, in a landmark ruling, the apex court last month reinstated the lower house of Parliament.

Oli's move led to the Prachanda-led CPN-MC to split from the ruling NCP.

Prominent leaders of the CPN-UML's Nepal faction - Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal had also sided with Prachanda in seeking Oli's resignation as Prime Minister.

To make the situation worse, the Supreme Court recently nullified CPN-MC's merger with CPN-UML. The two parties had merged in May 2018 to form a unified Nepal Communist Party following the victory of their alliance in the 2017 general elections.

According to the report, Oli will face a crisis if the CPN-MC withdraws its support it had lent to the UML in 2018. Talks have also been going on among the Nepali Congress, Maoist and Samajbadi leaders to form a coalition government.

The all-party meeting by the President also comes at a time when the CPN-UML too appears to be headed for a split even though Madhav Kumar Nepal and Khanal returned to the UML fold after the Supreme Court's decision, it said.

According to a report in The Himalayan Times, a meeting between the leader of the two CPN-UML factions on Monday ended in a stalemate with Nepal and Khanal demanding Oli to take back his decision on Friday that divested leaders close to the duo of key responsibilities in the party.

Nepal, after the meeting, said that his faction told Oli to rescind his decision and restore the party structure that existed before the UML's merger with the CPN-Maoist Centre.

On Friday, the Central Committee meeting of the CPN (UML) led by Prime Minister Oli had nominated 23 leaders of Maoist Centre, including the ministers to the party's central committee which the faction opposing him has said is against the norms of the party. He also changed the responsibilities of party leaders, stripping leaders close to Nepal of their responsibilities.

“Oli was not ready to withdraw the unilateral decisions made on March 12,” said Bhim Rawal, a Standing Committee member.

“We are ready to reconcile if Oli withdraws the March 12 decisions. Or else, we will go ahead with our decisions,” he was quoted as saying by the Kathmandu Post.

Deputy parliamentary party leader Subas Chandra Nembang said that differences between the two factions could not be resolved. The establishment faction told the rival faction that the Supreme Court's decision to nullify the unification between the UML and the CPN-MC was an opportunity to take the party forward unitedly.

A leader from the establishment faction was quoted as saying by The Himalayan Times that the Nepal-Khanal faction kept questioning the legality of the party's March 12 decision, but the establishment faction kept arguing that the meeting held to take that decision was valid.

Meanwhile, the Nepal-Khanal faction wrote a letter to the Election Commission on Sunday, urging it not to implement the decisions taken by the establishment faction led by Oli.

They have argued that the amendment made to the party's statute by the Oli-faction was illegal, stating that as per the party's statute, its provisions could be amended only by the party's General Convention or Statute Amendment Council. PTI RS AKJ RS