Nepal president dissolves Parliament, announces mid-term polls in November

Kathmandu, May 22 (EFE).- Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari early Saturday dissolved the House of Representatives, or the lower house of the Federal Parliament, and announced mid-term elections in November.

Bhandari’s announcement comes on the recommendation of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to dissolve of the 275-member Parliament following an emergency midnight meeting of the council of ministers.

A press statement issued by the Office of the President at around 2am notified the dissolution of the Parliament, while also announcing the dates of the elections in line with Article 76 (7) of the Constitution.

The council of ministers has recommended a two-phased elections on Nov.12 and Nov.19.

Barsha Man Pun, the leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), told EFE that the Oli’s move is an attack on “democracy and the Constitution”.

Earlier a notice from the president’s office had underlined that neither Oli nor the opposition Nepali Congress chairman Sher Bahadur Deuba were in a position to form the government due to insufficient support in the legislature.

This is the second time in five months that the parliament has been dissolved.

On Dec.20, Oli had suddenly dissolved the House and called for snap polls for Apr.30 and May 10, throwing the country into a political turmoil.

However, the Supreme Court overturned his decision on Feb.23, ruling the move as unconstitutional.

Shekhar Koirala, a senior Nepali Congress leader, told EFE that this recent move too was unconstitutional and “has pushed the country into a scary conflict.”

Earlier this month, Oli lost a vote of confidence in the parliament, but surprisingly took oath again as prime minister just four days later on May 13, given that his Communist Party of Nepal (UML) enjoyed the highest number of seats in the Parliament, while the opposition lacked enough support for a majority government.

On Friday, Oli held a press conference saying he had paved the way for the formation of a new government because he did not have enough support to win the trust vote.

The recent political development also led to criticism as it comes at a time when Nepal has been grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases across the country.

According to the health ministry, the Himalayan country of 30 million people detected 8,407 fresh Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, while 177 deaths were recorded. The number of active cases stands at 116,192.

Over 45 percent of Covid-19 RT-PCR tests are turning out positive.

Hospitals in the capital city of Kathmandu and other urban areas are have become full and are turning away patients due to a shortage of beds. Critical gaps in supplies, including oxygen, have been reported across the country.

Moreover, the country currently has no stock of vaccines to inoculate its population.

“People are fighting the pandemic, and this is the gift to the people? (…) A collective raping of the Constitution will prove costly,” Nepali Congress spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma said in a tweet.

The United Nations on Friday launched the Nepal Covid-19 Response Plan to mobilize an emergency response fund of $83.7 million over the next three months for 750,000 of the most vulnerable sections. EFE


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