By Binod Prasad Adhikari
Kathmandu [Nepal], July 12 (ANI): Nepal Supreme Court on Monday reinstated the dissolved lower house of Parliament and issued a mandamus ordering the appointment of Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba as Prime Minister within two days.
Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba is set to succeed KP Sharma Oli as Prime Minister of Nepal on Tuesday.
Deuba will take oath as second Premier of the Himalayan Nation after the apex Court reinstated the dissolved lower house and issued a mandamus naming the opposition leader as the successor.
"Tomorrow (July 13), as per the verdict of the Supreme Court honorable Sher Bahadur Deuba will form a new cabinet for which we would start consultations and discussions. This would be alliance government and we will be holding a discussion about further ways to make it more effective and working addressing concerns of the public that would cover the issues about COVID-19 management, vaccines, corruptions and others," Baburam Bhattarai, former Prime Minister and one of the leaders of opposition alliance told reporters on Monday evening.
A meeting was held in the capital this afternoon, senior leaders of NC, CPN (Maoist Center), UpendraYadav-led Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP), and Madhav Nepal-led faction of the UML.
The meeting focused on discussing their future course of action including the formation of a new cabinet. As per leaders, further discussion about division of ministerial portfolios would be decided through a meeting to be held on Tuesday morning.
Although the apex court's order has paved the way for Deuba to become a new prime minister, for now, Deuba will have to secure majority votes in the parliament to survive as prime minister for the remaining term of parliament.
Deuba runs short of a majority as a rival faction of CPN-UML backs off
After months of intraparty rift, the rival faction of ruling CPN-UML under the leadership of Madhav Kumar Nepal has separated itself out from the alliance formed to fight against caretaker PM Oli.
The two factions in the UML (one led by Oli and other by Nepal) on Sunday evening have reached a 10-point agreement to bury their hatchet. After Monday's verdict, Nepal faction has announced to unify with the party ending earlier formed alliance.
"This alliance reached to this point, it has completed one phase; now a totally new sphere has formed in front of us. In the present scenario we cannot stay on this alliance for any longer, our presence and support for this alliance would not remain the same. Question over role of CPN-UML in national politics of Nepal still prevails, so at first we will unify the party and then the role about our party in upcoming days would be decided through the meetings of concerned committees of party which also would determine whether to support new government or not," Raghuji Panta, leader representing the rival faction of CPN-UML which had signed for Deuba in court documents told reporters after today's meeting
With the break off of the rival faction of CPN-UML, the largest seat holder in parliament, the fate of the vote of confidence for to-be-appointed Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba remains uncertain. Deuba will have to secure the vote of confidence in parliament within a month after his appointment as the new prime minister.
A total of 146 members of the House of Representatives (HoR) reached out to Supreme Court with a writ petition to demand the restoration of house and appoint Sher Bahadur Deuba, as next Prime Minister on May 24.
The petitions at that time included a total of 61 members of the House of Representatives from the Nepali Congress, 49 from the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), 23 from the Madhav Nepal faction of CPN-UML, 12 from UpendraYadav-BaburamBhattarai of JanataSamajbadi Party and one from Rashtriya Janamorcha Nepal.
While claiming the Prime Ministership back in May, Deuba had presented signatures of 149 lawmakers to prove that he commanded majority to lead a new government. Now Deuba falls short of 23 votes which he earlier use to have from Madhav Nepal led faction of CPN-UML.
Court has also overturned provision of "whip" imposed on parliamentarians
The Apex Court which on Monday reinstated the May dissolved House of Representatives also has removed the provision of "whip" (directive issued from a political party to ensure attendance and voting in debates) on parliamentarians.
"The provisions of Article 76 (5) of the constitution which has been misused by President and Prime Minister regarding the formation of the new government has ended with this verdict. A clear interpretation over issue has been given which now states that the formation of a government under Article 76 (5) is always dependent on members of the House of Representatives. At the time of voting over motion of confidence, the parliamentarians now would not be abided by the 'whip' meaning they can decide over the candidate on their own when it comes to choosing a Prime Minister when Article 76 (5) is activated," Om Prakash Aryal, one of the advocate who took part in the discussions held in court told ANI.
Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari had refused to allow Deuba to form a new government as per Article 76 (5) and dissolution of the House.
With Oli failing to secure vote of confidence on May 10, Bhandari on May 13 had appointed Oli prime ministerunder Article 76 (3) of the constitution as the leader of the party with the highest number of members in the House.
A week after his appointment, Oli on May 20 in a sudden move recommended that the President invoke Article 76 (5) to choose a new prime minister. It's the President who initiates Article 76 (5) when a prime minister appointed under Article 76 (3) fails the trust vote. Oli, however, neither sought the trust vote nor resigned, thereby creating a situation in which a prime minister was asking the President to appoint a prime minister.
Oli supporters to continue protest against verdict
Soon after the verdict of Supreme Court to reinstate the lower house, overturning decision of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari to dissolve the parliament in recommendation of KP Sharma Oli protests has erupted in Nepali capital against it.
Apex Court not only has reinstated the house but also passed a mandamus in the name of the Office of President to appoint Deuba as new prime minister of the country by Tuesday. Separately, the supreme judicial body also has ordered summon for fresh session of House of Representatives at 5 PM on July 18.
Dissatisfied with the court's mandamus, protesting leaders have termed it as an attempt by the judicial body to exercise more power.
"Supreme Court is now trying to exercise rights of executive, legislature, that of President, constitutional bodies," Mahesh Basnet, Senior Leader of Youth Association Nepal, student wing of CPN-UML claimed while addressing a protest march.
The apex court had on February 23 reinstated dissolved parliament on December 20, 2020. President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on May 22 this year again had dissolved the parliament on recommendation of the cabinet.
Following the dissolution, more than two dozen writ petitions were filed seeking the restoration of the House and issuing an order that Deuba be appointed as the new Prime Minister.
Though Monday's verdict has paved way for Deuba to become the next Prime Minister, failure to garner a vote of confidence would further plunge the Himalayan Nation into a political crisis. (ANI)