News Digest: Domestic Politics & Governance (July 8-14, 2021)

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CPN-UML:

Following a series of efforts from KP Oli, including the scrapping of the general convention organizing committee and revival of the task force, second-rank leaders of the CPN-UML’s Nepal faction piled pressure on Madhav Nepal to reconcile with Oli. According to analysts, the leaders are concerned more about their own political future, which might be affected if Oli indeed closes all doors on the Nepal faction.

After hours of negotiations on July 9 and 10, the 10-member task force outlined a 10-point deal for an agreement between Oli and Nepal. However, Madhav Nepal expressed his discontent with the proposal and refused to back down from his challenge to Oli’s House dissolution move in the SC or influence the court’s decision in any way.

House Dissolution and the Supreme Court

On July 12, 2021, the Supreme Court gave a landmark verdict and reinstated the House of Representatives (HoR). The court’s Constitutional Bench also ordered to appoint Sher Bahadur Deuba as the prime minister. The court’s decision also raised serious moral and ethical questions for president Bidya Devi Bhandari.

Following the court’s decision, Madhav Nepal expressed his intention not to continue with the anti-Oli alliance and instead struggle within the party. Meanwhile, the two factions of the Janata Samajwadi Party received the court’s verdict differently; while the Yadav faction celebrated the decision, the Thakur faction appears uncertain about its future. In his departing message to the citizens, Oli attacked the court and accused it of fulfilling someone’s personal ambitions by misinterpreting the constitution. 

After a short confrontation due to the president’s ‘unusual’ behavior in the appointment letter, Sher Bahadur Deuba took the oath as the PM on July 13. Immediately after the PM’s oath, four ministers—two from the NC and two from the CPN-Maoist Centre—took oath as well.

CPN-Maoist Centre:

Former Maoist Centre leaders who defected from the party and joined KP Oli’s CPN-UML registered a complaint in the Election Commission challenging the legitimacy of the CPN-Maoist Centre. They claimed that the party violated the Constitution and the Political Party Act. On July 9, they even reached the EC to put pressure on the constitutional body to take action against the party.

The Election Commission, on July 11, confirmed the legitimacy of the NCP-Maoist Centre, quailing the dissident petitioners.

In the party’s central committee meeting on July 13, Maoist Centre leaders proposed the formation of a high-level political mechanism, with leaders from all parties of the anti-Oli alliance.    

Nepali Congress (NC):

President Bidyadevi Bhandari administers the oath of office and secrecy to newly appointed Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba at the President’s Office, Sheetal Niwas. Photo: RSS

As the preparations for the party’s general convention gears up, the contenders for NC’s general secretary ready their claims, too. For the post of two general secretaries, about a dozen leaders from both establishment and anti-establishment factions have forwarded their names.

Meanwhile, general secretary Dr. Shashank Koirala clarified that only one among Bimalendra Nidhi, Prakash Man Singh, and himself will run for the party’s presidency. The trio had initially forwarded their individual claims to run for presidency, however, a series of meetings among them had signaled at a possible factional reorganization within the party.

The momentum for general convention is seen at the district-level, too, as 388 contenders—377 male and 11 female—forwarded their candidacy for the party’s district president.

Governance

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) hasn’t held its general convention since 2013, however, the constitution requires political parties to hold a general convention within five years. For this reason, the Election Commission has rejected the demand of former Maoist Centre leaders to annul Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre).

On July 5, the Supreme Court withdrew KP Oli’s May 21 decision to dissolve the House of Representative. Hence, the Supreme Court ordered President Bidya Devi Bhandari to appoint Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba as the new prime minister as per Article 76(5) of the constitution.

On June 17, a written clarification regarding the House dissolution of May 21 and the November midterm elections announcement was presented before the Supreme Court arguing that President Bidya Bhandari’s actions couldn’t be reviewed by the judiciary since the President performs their duty according to the government’s recommendations, however, the Constitutional Bench, while presenting it’s verdict on the House dissolution petitions, said that the Supreme Court should review unconstitutional actions taken by the president.

On July 12, in its verdict, the Supreme Court stated that the budget introduced by the KP Sharma Oli led government goes against the representative governance system and is inappropriate since it introduced a full budget despite being a caretaker government. Legal experts have said that it is now up to the new government to decide whether to continue with the current budget or introduce a new one.

The newly appointed prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, according to Article 76(6) of the Constitution, will need to go through a vote of confidence. If he wins the vote of confidence, Deuba will continue as prime minister for 18 months. If not, polls will need to be held within six months of the date of the vote of confidence.

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