News Digest: Domestic Politics and Governance (September 9 – 15, 2021)

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On September 10, obstructions in the parliament included opposition lawmakers sloganeering, breaching security, attempting to reach the rostrum where Finance Minister Janardhan Sharma read out the revised budget. However, the Speaker needs the support of all parties in order to endorse the replacement bill on the budget ordinance by September 15 (60 days since the ordinance was presented on July 18), or the government will not be able to spend money, causing a ‘government shutdown.’

Opposition parties protested against Speaker Agni Sapkota for not letting go of 14 of its lawmakers which the party claims to be defectors, siding with Madhav Nepal’s CPN (Unified Socialist). The party decided to continue the protests until Agni Sapkota dismisses the 14 lawmakers.

Although the constitution requires that a party needs to complete its general convention within five years, Nepali Congress has postponed deadlines to hold its general convention several times, exhausting its four year term and a year and a half extension limit on September 8. However, Purna Bahadur Khadka, Nepali Congress General Secretary, wrote in a letter to the Election Commission that the party started its General Convention from September 3. The Election Commission will now decide the legal status of the party.

Decisions on Cabinet expansion and ratification of the Millenium Challenge Corporation are being delayed because of obstructions by main opposition CPN-UML at the House of Representatives. Although it has been two months since Sher Bahadur Deuba was appointed as prime minister, Cabinet expansion is yet to take place due to factors such as party splits in the CPN-UML and JSP.

Speaker Agni Sapkota called an all party meeting in order to address the obstructions by opposition parties in the House of Representatives, but the opposition parties refused to participate. The obstructions are mainly occurring because of Speaker Agni Sapkota’s refusal to issue a notice to expel as many as 14 lawmakers, including Madhav Kumar Nepal.

Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota at a meeting of the House of Representatives held at the Federal Parliament Building, New Baneshwor on September 10. Photo: RSS

On September 14, the Supreme Court issued an interim order which will allow lawmakers Som Prasad Pande and Sharada Devi Bhatta to join the CPN (Unified Socialist). National Assembly member Bhatta and CPN-UML lawmaker Pande, demanding that they need to be able to join the newly-formed CPN (Unified Socialist), had submitted a writ petition to the Supreme Court.

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