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Nepal government crisis: Opposition to file writ petition against President's move of House dissolution

07:38 AM May 24, 2021 | PTI

Kathmandu

Nepal's Opposition alliance on Sunday postponed the registration of a writ petition in the Supreme Court and will file it today against the "unconstitutional" dissolution of the House of Representatives by the President.

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The Opposition parties, which had planned to register the writ on Sunday, put off the procedure until Monday, citing lack of adequate time.

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According to a CPN-Maoist Centre leader, the petition will be filed at 10:00 am on Monday, The Himalayan Times reported.

Leaders of the alliance on Sunday were engaged in conducting meetings and collecting signatures of the lawmakers from the Maoist Centre, the Nepali Congress, the Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal, Rastriya Janamorcha and Madhav Nepal faction of the ruling CPN-UML, it said.

Although the signature collection campaign has not ended, more than enough people have signed up to prove a majority, the report quoted a Maoist Centre leader.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved the 275-member House of Representatives on Saturday for the second time in five months and announced snap elections on November 12 and November 19 on the advice of Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, heading a minority government.

She rejected the bids of both embattled Prime Minister Oli and the Opposition alliance's claims to form a government. Oli and Opposition leader Sher Bahadur Deuba had staked separate claims to the premiership.

The announcement came after Prime Minister Oli in his last deal-sealing move on Friday midnight recommended the Office of the President to dissolve the House and announce dates for early elections.

Alarmed by the President's step to dissolve the House yet again, the leaders of Nepal's Opposition alliance on Saturday decided to take all legal and political means to counter Prime Minister Oli and President Bhandari's "unconstitutional, undemocratic and regressive" move.

The Opposition alliance blamed the president for making an assault on the Constitution and democracy in partnership with the prime minister, who had lost a trust vote in the House.

The authorities in Nepal on Sunday tightened security around the Supreme Court building and government offices in view of the Opposition's decision to move the apex court on dissolution of the House.

In a joint statement issued at the end of their meeting on Saturday, the Opposition leaders said the President did not follow her constitutional responsibility of appointing a new prime minister based on the constitutional claim as per Article 76 (5) of the constitution with signatures of majority lawmakers.

"Instead, she sided with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli with malafide intentions and dissolved Parliament in an attack on the Constitution and democracy. This regressive move has pushed the country towards new political polarisation and complexity," they said in a joint statement.

The statement was signed by Nepali Congress President Deuba, CPN-Maoist Centre Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, Chairperson of Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal Upendra Yadav and Vice-Chair of the Rastriya Janamorcha Durga Paudel.

The president's announcement on Saturday plunged Nepal into further political crisis, a reminder of her December 2020 decision when she first dissolved the House at Oli's recommendation, a move that swayed the course of Nepali politics towards uncertainty.

The Supreme Court had annulled the duo's move in February.

Nepal's political crisis took a dramatic turn on Friday as embattled Prime Minister Oli and the Opposition parties staked separate claims for the formation of a new government by submitting letters of support from lawmakers to the president.

Oli claimed the support of 121 lawmakers from his party CPN-UML and 32 lawmakers of Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal (JSP-N) for his reappointment under Article 76(5) of the Constitution.

Nepali Congress President Deuba claimed to have garnered the support of 149 lawmakers.

However, a dispute emerged after a few lawmakers from the Madhav Nepal faction put out statements claiming that their signatures were misused and that they did not sign any paper to install Opposition leader Deuba as the prime minister against their party chief.

Earlier on Thursday, the President's Office stated that the government had forwarded a request to invoke Article 76 (5) as Prime Minister Oli, it has been learnt, is in no mood to undergo another parliamentary floor test as there is no prospect of an otherwise result given the complex internal dynamics within parties represented in the federal parliament.

Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 last year after President Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

Oli's move to dissolve the House sparked protests from a large section of the NCP led by his rival Prachanda. In February, the apex court reinstated the dissolved House, in a setback to Oli who was preparing for snap polls.

All eyes on Nepal President as ruling party, opposition stake claims to form governmentNepal's Oli government loses majority as Maoist Center withdraws support

Protests continue in Nepal, over two dozen writ petitions filed in court

Lalitpur

The opposition alliance in Nepal continued to protest against re-dissolution of parliament despite the pandemic-induced prohibitory orders and surging COVID-19 cases.

Over two dozen writ petitions have also been filed in court against the latest move in which President Bidhya Bhandari and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli are the main defendants.

The Supreme Court on Sunday confirmed that a total of 25 writ petitions have been lodged in court. The opposition alliance also is expected to lodge their petition on Monday.

Advocate Krishna Bhandari filed a writ petition alleging that PM Oli has not been appointed PM even after presenting a clear basis for his appointment. All writs are against President Bhandari's decision to invalidate claims of PM Oli and NC President Deuba for govt formation.

Writs favouring PM Oli demand Oli's appointment to the post of PM and writs in favour of Deuba call to make him the PM. However, none of them have been registered yet and are under review, as per the SC administration.

Opposition alliance on Sunday afternoon burned an effigy of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in front of Patan Multiple Campus in Lalitpur. Police intervened in the demonstration and dispersed the protestors.

Earlier in the afternoon, the student wing of Nepali Congress staged a demonstration in front of the President's Office leading to the arrest of three protestors. Hours before the protest in front of Sheetal Niwas, cadres of Nepali Congress also have smeared cow-dung on the images of the President and the Prime Minister.

Office of the President on the wee hours of Saturday issued a release announcing the dissolution of the house for the second time as per Article 76 (7) of the Constitution of Nepal, on the recommendation of the cabinet. The next election will be on November 12 and 19 as per the recommendation of the Cabinet.

Article 76(7) of the Constitution states "If the Prime Minister appointed according to clause (5) fails to get the vote of confidence or if any member fails to be appointed as Prime Minister, the President shall, on the recommendation of Prime Minister, dissolve the House of Representatives and fix a date to conduct another election within six months."

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