Nepal’s Supreme Court re-established the dissolved House of Representatives on Tuesday, in a major setback for besieged Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli as he braced for snap polls amid a power struggle with his ruling Communist Party rivals . In a landmark decision, a five-member constitutional bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher overturned the Oli government’s “unconstitutional” decision to dissolve the 275 members of the lower house of parliament.
The court also ordered the government to convene the House session within the next 13 days.
Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 after President Bidya Dev Bhandari dissolved the chamber and announced new elections on April 30 and May 10 on the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, amid a power struggle within the ruling Nepalese Communist Party (NCP).
In his letter recommending to President Bhandari the dissolution of the House, Oli had argued that he controlled 64% of the majority in the House, that there was no possibility of forming a new government and that the country needed ‘a new mandate from the people to ensure stability.
Oli’s decision to dissolve the House sparked protests from much of the NCP led by rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”, also co-chairman of the ruling party.
No less than 13 written petitions, including that of the ruling party’s chief whip, Dev Prasad Gurung, have been lodged with the Supreme Court to demand the restoration of the lower house parliament.
The constitutional bench composed of Bishwombhar Prasad Shrestha, Anil Kumar Sinha, Sapana Malla and Tej Bahadur KC held a hearing on the case from January 17 to February 19.
Oli, 69, has repeatedly defended his decision to dissolve the House, saying some leaders in his party are trying to form a “parallel government”.
He said he made the decision because he enjoyed the power inherent as the head of a majority government.
Last month, the PCN faction led by Prachanda expelled Prime Minister Oli from the general membership of the Communist Party of Nepal for alleged anti-party activities.
Earlier in December, the splinter group Oli, one of the two presidents of the ruling party, was co-chair. Former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has been appointed the second party chairman. Prachanda is the party’s first president.
The PCN faction led by Prachanda and the main opposition in the Nepalese Congress had opposed the dissolution of the chamber, claiming it was unconstitutional and undemocratic. The faction led by Prachanda had organized protest rallies and public rallies in various parts of the country.
Oli-led CPN-UML and Prachanda-led NCP (Maoist Center) merged in May 2018 to form a unified Nepalese Communist Party after their alliance won in the 2017 general election.
After a vertical split in the ruling party following the dissolution of the House, the two factions, one led by Oli and the other led by Prachanda, made separate demands to the Election Commission, claiming their faction was the real party and have applied for the party’s electoral symbol.
Meanwhile, the presidential duo of rival faction NCP, Prachanda, and Nepal celebrated their legal victory over Oli.
Prachanda and Nepal reached Chitwan – Prachanda’s hometown – to address a mass rally organized by their NCP faction on Wednesday.
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