News Digest: Domestic Politics & Governance (June 10-16, 2021)

0 Comments

The Speaker

To discuss the political developments after the House dissolution, Speaker Agni Sapkota called an all-party meeting on June 11. Leaders of political parties represented in the parliament, the prime minister, and ex-prime ministers were invited. The leaders and ex-prime ministers argued that PM Oli has eroded Nepal’s federal democratic republicanism by unconstitutionally dissolving the House and making one unconstitutional move after another.

Some constitutional experts have called the Speaker’s effort unconstitutional and undemocratic because a) the dissolution case is sub judice in the Supreme Court and b) the Speaker’s position is neutral, so he should refrain from taking sides.  

Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota participating in a discussion with the leaders of the political parties represented in the Federal Parliament and former Prime Ministers at the Federal Parliament Building in New Baneshwor. Photo: RSS

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court (SC) has “fast-tracked” the House dissolution-related hearing; while the court will start continuous hearing from June 23, each sides will be given 15 hours to present their arguments. The amicus curiae will be given a total of two hours to discuss.

The SC issued an interim order asking the government not to distribute citizenship based on the new Citizenship Amendment Ordinance, which was issued by PM Oli in an effort to court the Thakur-Mahato faction of the Janata Samajwadi Party.

Nepali Congress (NC)

Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba assured its party leaders and cadres that the general convention will be conducted by September 2021. However concluding all assemblies at various levels amid the pandemic is challenging, which puts the party at a crossroads because they bear a constitutional obligation to hold the convention by September.

To discuss the 14th General Convention, party president Deuba called a meeting of the office-bearers at his residence in Baluwatar on June 12. The meeting decided to extend the general convention dates by a week.

Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML)

Despite the party’s virtual split at the top-level, the second-rank leaders from both Oli and Khanal-Nepal faction continue to hold discussions to ‘save the party’ from a split. Their efforts have received doubts and criticism from within and ourside the latter faction.

The Supreme Court invalidated the authenticity of CPN-UML’s ’10th General Convention Organizing Committee’ and reinstated the four Karnali province lawmakers, who were expelled from the party. The decision also invalidated the punishment against 11 leaders of the Khanal-Nepal faction, while stripping the positions of ex-Maoist leaders including Ram Bahadur Thapa.
Against some observers and leaders’ speculation that the SC verdict will pave the path for agreement and party unity, PM Oli has decided to appeal against the decision.

After not being included in Oli’s new cabinet, there has been a dissatisfaction among the ex-Maoist leaders in the CPN-UML. The leaders have also refused to consider Ram Bahadur Thapa, who compromised with Oli by getting his wife a minister portfolio, as the group leader.

Janata Samajwadi Party

The Election Commission (EC) has invalidated the claims of both Thakur-Mahato and Yadav faction, citing that neither group’s disciplinary action is in terms with the Political Parties Act and regulations or the party’s statute. Claiming that the EC’s decision is biased against them, the Yadav faction has decided to challenge it in the Supreme Court. With this, the EC has become embroiled in controversies and criticisms for not being impartial, as parties challenge its one decision after another in the SC.

The Opposition Alliance

The opposition alliance, of five parties, have decided to cooperate at provincial level as well. After a meeting at Madhav Nepal’s residence on June 14, they have agreed to further strengthen the alliance for the protection of the country, democracy, and constitution.

Five ex-prime ministers—Sher Bahadur Deuba, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Madhav Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal, and Baburam Bhattarai—issued a joint statement warning the care-taker government and urging the state machineries and security agencies ‘not to do anything…that would have a long-term impact on the country.’

The Civil Society

Some 20 civil society leaders, including Narayan Wagle and Khagendra Sangraula, were arrested from Baluwatar, on June 11, for protesting against politicization of the medical sector.

Governance

House of Representatives speaker Agni Sapkota called an all-party meeting for June 18 in order to discuss the House dissolution which occurred on May 21 and the situation it has created in Nepali politics. Invitees include former prime ministers, the current prime minister and CPN-UML chairman KP Sharma Oli.

KP Sharma Oli, currently the caretaker prime minister, has inducted ministers to the cabinet. On June 10, Oli appointed one state minister and seven ministers. The names and ministries designated to these appointees are listed below: Ministry of Home – Khagaraj Adhikari, Communication and Information Technology – Nayankala Thapa, Industry, Commerce and Supplies – Rajkishwor Yadhav, General Administration – Ganesh Kumar Pahadi, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development – Jwala Kumari Sah, and State minister for forest – Asha Bishwokarma.

Nepali Congress needs to hold a party convention by September as the provisions that allow delaying the convention have been exhausted in order to avoid being invalidated. However, due to circumstances such as the covid-19 crisis, political uncertainty, and several other factors which hamper progress, experts say that holding a convention by September is difficult. The last convention (13th general convention) for Nepali Congress took place in March 2016 in which Sher Bahadur Deuba was elected as party president.

Krishna Chandra Nepali, congress leader, took over as chief minister in Gandaki after Prithivi Subba Gurung, the previous chief minister in Gandaki lost a confidence vote in the provincial assembly. Gurung had attempted the dissolution of the provincial assembly after he lost the confidence vote, however, Nepali Congress won enough votes in order to have a majority and prevent this from happening. KP Sharma Oli, on June 13, remarked that the practice of federalism was at risk. He said this statement after his close aide, Prithivi Subba Gurung (part of CPN-UML) lost his post as chief minister in Gandaki province.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.