Shirish B Pradhan
Beleaguered Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Friday urged all political parties to form an all-party government and hold fresh elections, as he tried to justify the controversial dissolution of the House of Representatives twice by the President, saying a "functionless" Parliament turned out to be the main source of instability in the country.
"To go for a fresh mandate of the people is not retrogression but a democratic process," said Oli in a televised address to the nation, a week after the House was dissolved by President Bidya Devi Bhandari.
The president 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 Oli, who is heading a minority government.
Oli, 69, called upon the political parties to form an all-party government and hold elections.
Addressing the nation as the chief executive of the country, Oli took most of his time to criticise the moves taken by the Opposition parties and his fellow party leaders.
He blamed the Opposition parties and dissident faction of the ruling CPN-UML for the dissolution of Parliament. He blamed his party's rival group for blocking his attempts to consolidate democracy and to take the nation to the path of socio-economic transformation.
Oli said Parliament could not ensure stability in the country even after it was restored on February 23 through judicial intervention.
"Though it was reinstated through the Supreme Court's verdict, it turned out to be functionless and the main source of instability in the country," said Oli.
He claimed that he tried to prevent the lower house of Parliament from being dissolved.
"I made my last ditch effort to form an alternative government as per Article 76 (5) after being assured of support from the Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP). However, Opposition parties, who played a dirty game of politics, forced the president to dismiss their claim for a new government," he said.
"Due to their erroneous claim, I was the victim and Parliament was dissolved as per the constitutional provisions," he said.
Hinting at the support extended to Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba by more than two dozen lawmakers of UML and a dozen others belonging to the JSP, he warned of not accepting partyless character in the multiparty system adopted by Nepal.
President Bhandari dissolved the House and rejected the bids of both Prime Minister Oli and the Opposition alliance's claims to form a government, saying the "claims were insufficient." Nepal's Opposition alliance on Monday filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court demanding restoration of the House of Representatives and appointment of Deuba as the Prime Minister. Others had also filed petitions against the dissolution of the House of Representatives. The next hearing in the case will be held on Sunday, the government-run Rising Nepal newspaper reported.
Earlier on December 20, the President had dissolved the Parliament and called snap polls on April 30 and May 10. However, two months later, the Rana-led Constitutional Bench on February 23 overturned the decision and reinstated the House.
Constitutional experts have criticised Oli and Bhandari for their complicity in trampling upon the Constitution.
In his address Oli also discussed the government's efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic and claimed that his government made big achievements, including controlling the pandemic, during his three years tenure.
Oli expressed gratitude to China, India and other friendly countries for helping the government in its attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus by providing necessary medical supplies.
He informed that the Nepal government has received 3.2 million doses of vaccines against coronavirus in grants from friendly countries and purchased one million additional vaccines to start the drive against spread of the coronavirus.
He also discussed the government's efforts to combat the coronavirus disease and also claimed that the positivity rate and death rate have fallen as a result of 'systematic government efforts'.
Prime Minister Oli also assured the people of vaccines against the coronavirus disease at the earliest. "Those who have received the first shot of Covishield vaccines will be administered the second jab at any cost," he said. However, Nepal is currently facing a huge shortage of vaccines and was trying to get Chinese vaccines.
Meanwhile, as the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court on Friday began hearing on the 30 petitions filed against the dissolution of the House of Representatives and announcement of mid-term elections, four former chief justices have again raised concern over the risk to a system governed by the rule of law.
"By dissolving Parliament time and again, punishing the House for no reason, introducing a number of ordinances, bringing a full budget instead of interim one, mockery has been made of the rule of law in the country," said a statement of a group of four former chief justices.
The group includes former chief justices Sushila Karki, Kalyan Shrestha, Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Anup Raj Sharma.