News Digest – Democracy and Governance (April 15 – 21, 2021)

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Domestic Politics

All-Party Meeting

Prime Minister Oli called an all-party meeting on April 17, 2021, to discuss the ongoing political issues, before proroguing the winter session of the federal parliament.  

At the meeting, Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba presented the party’s position on the MCC compact and urged the government to take necessary initiatives and get the compact endorsed by the parliament. PM Oli, however, accused Speaker Agni Sapkota of blocking the MCC’s ratification and of playing a partisan role in the parliament.

Thapa loses and regains the Home Ministry portfolio 

Following CPN–MC’s recommendation to the parliament secretariat, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal lost his position as a parliamentarian and portfolio as the Home Minister—automatically after his expulsion from the party was confirmed. 

On the same day, April 18, however, Thapa was re-sworn in as the Home Minister by president Bidya Devi Bhandari. Thapa, who has lost his membership of the National Assembly, will have to regain membership of the parliament within six months of his re-appointment. 

The Federal Parliament

President Bhandari prorogued the winter session of the federal parliament, on recommendation from the government, after a cabinet meeting on April 19, 2021. PM Oli is reported to have made the hasty move after sensing a probable no confidence motion the following day. 

NC’s Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting concluded that the sudden prorogation of the federal parliament was against democratic norms and that the government should not have done so.

Oli preparing to expel 27 federal lawmakers

On April 20, 2021, PM and CPN–UML’s parliamentary leader KP Oli sought justification from 27 federal lawmakers, including Madav Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal, and 5 provincial lawmakers from Karnali—asking why the party should not rescind their lawmaker status by expelling them from the party. Citing the party’s statue about disciplinary violation, PM Oli has given the lawmakers a two-day deadline to furnish clarification. 

A meeting of the lawmakers in question decided to provide justification and continue the struggle against PM Oli from within the parliamentary party. 

Speaking at an interview, senior leader Khanal said that PM Oli demanding justification is itself unlawful and that Oli has already dismantled the party’s Central Committee—a body that has the authority to seek justification. Khanal stressed that the party’s statute does not recognize the newly-formed 10th General Convention Organizing Committee, which has been making the moves.

PM Oli signaling an early election

Presenting a political proposal at a meeting of the 10th General Convention Organizing Committee, PM Oli instructed all the party workers and cadres to start preparing for elections, as there is a high probability of the parliament’s re-dissolution and early election.

The National Assembly Election

To fill one position in the NA, left vacant after the expulsion of Thapa from CPN–MC, the Election Commission has recommended to hold the NA election in first week of Jestha (mid-May). 

Governance and Corruption

On April 14, Gandaki Chief Minister Prithivi Subba Gurung prorogued the assembly in order to avoid a no confidence motion against him by the Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), and Janata Samajbadi Party.

Karnali chief minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi earned a vote of confidence from UML Provincial Assembly members on April 16, 2021. He was elected chief minister in February 2018.

The 27 year lease agreement with Concept Developers Private Limited and Nepal Trust for Kathmandu Plaza expired in June last year. Nepal Trust left the premises on April 15, but it hasn’t collected rent.  The Trust lost an estimated Rs. 6 million in 10 months worth of potential rent.

Bhimdatta municipal government has been unable to construct a landfill site as landowners are not willing to provide land plots. The landowners reportedly don’t want a landfill site near their properties.

Oli, during an all-party meeting on April 17, asked political parties to endorse the House ratification of the MCC (Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact). If passed, Nepal would receive $500 million from the United States as an infrastructure grant.

On April 16, The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration predicted that it could take another two years for the Federal Civil Service Act to come into effect. Since 2017, provinces haven’t been able to recruit new staff because the Act hasn’t been passed.

On April 19, President Bidya Devi Bhandari prorogued the House session with recommendation from the government and the Council of Ministers as per Article 93(2) of the Constitution of Nepal.

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