Nepal tightens security as Opposition alliance prepares to move court against Parliament dissolution

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Kathmandu, May 23 (PTI) Authorities in Nepal on Sunday tightened security around the Supreme Court building and government offices here as top leaders of the Opposition alliance prepared to file a writ petition at the apex court against the 'unconstitutional' dissolution of the House of Representatives by the President, according to a media report.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved the House of Representatives on Saturday for the second time in five months and announced snap elections in November on the advice of Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, heading a minority government.

She rejected the bids of both embattled Prime Minister Oli and the Opposition alliance's claims to form a government.

Oli and Opposition leader Sher Bahadur Deuba had staked separate claims to the premiership.

The announcement came after Prime Minister Oli in his last deal-sealing move on Friday midnight recommended the Office of the President to dissolve the 275-member House and announce dates for early elections.

As leaders of the Opposition alliance prepared to move the court, security forces have increased vigilance around the Singhadurbar-Supreme Court area, The Himalayan Times reported.

The security has been tightened in a bid to avert crowding and protests, a Nepali Police official stated.

Police have made a few arrests on Sunday as political groups have taken to the streets to protest the government's move.

Nepali Congress, Maoist Centre, Upendra Yadav-led faction of the Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal and the Rastriya Janamorcha leaders were gathering signatures of their lawmakers before filing the writ.

On the other hand, leaders from Madhav Nepal, Jhalanath Khanal-led faction of ruling CPN-UML are expected to submit their signatures too.

The Opposition alliance on Saturday convened a meeting to discuss their strategies forward and decided to unitedly fight the unconstitutional, regressive, autocratic move of the government by every political and legal means possible.

In a joint statement issued at the end of their meeting, the Opposition leaders said the President did not follow her constitutional responsibility of appointing a new prime minister based on the constitutional claim as per Article 76 (5) of the constitution with signatures of majority lawmakers.

“Instead she sided with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli with malafide intentions and dissolved Parliament in an attack on the Constitution and democracy. This regressive move has pushed the country towards new political polarisation and complexity,' they said in a joint statement.

The statement was signed by Nepali Congress President Deuba, CPN-Maoist Centre Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, Chairperson of Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal Upendra Yadav and Vice-Chair of the Rastriya Janamorcha Durga Paudel.

The president’s announcement on Saturday plunged Nepal into further political crisis, a reminder of her December 2020 decision when she first dissolved the House at Oli’s recommendation, a move that swayed the course of Nepali politics towards uncertainty.

The Supreme Court had annulled the duo's move in February.

Nepal’s political crisis took a dramatic turn on Friday as embattled Prime Minister Oli and the Opposition parties staked separate claims for the formation of a new government by submitting letters of support from lawmakers to the president.

Oli claimed the support of 121 lawmakers from his party CPN-UML and 32 lawmakers of Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal (JSP-N) for his reappointment under Article 76(5) of the Constitution.

Nepali Congress President Deuba claimed to have garnered the support of 149 lawmakers.

However, a dispute emerged after a few lawmakers from the Madhav Nepal faction put out statements claiming that their signatures were misused and that they did not sign any paper to install Opposition leader Deuba as the prime minister against their party chief.

Earlier on Thursday, the president's office stated that the government had forwarded a request to invoke Article 76 (5) as Prime Minister Oli, it has been learnt, is in no mood to undergo another parliamentary floor test as there is no prospect of an otherwise result given the complex internal dynamics within parties represented in the federal parliament.

Meanwhile, Oli's CPN-UML party has initiated the process to take action against 11 lawmakers of the dissolved parliament on charges of supporting the Opposition party leader to oust the premier.

A Standing Committee meeting of the party held on Saturday decided to seek clarification from 11 lawmakers, including senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal. They were asked to furnish clarification by Monday morning.

Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 last year after President Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

Oli's move to dissolve the House sparked protests from a large section of the NCP led by his rival Prachanda. In February, the apex court reinstated the dissolved House, in a setback to Oli who was preparing for snap polls. PTI NSA AKJ NSA NSA

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