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People's Daily Online

Nepali PM loses vote of confidence in parliament, president calls for forming new gov't in 3 days

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 08:23, May 11, 2021

KATHMANDU, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli lost the vote of confidence in the House of Representatives on Monday after more than three years in power, opening door for formation of a new government in the country.

Against 136 votes needed to win the vote of confidence in the House with 271 lawmakers, Oli just managed to garner 93 votes. The lawmakers from Madhav Nepal faction (UML) within his party CPN-UML did not vote for him and abstained from the voting process.

The CPN-UML has 121 seats in the House of Representatives which is short of 15 votes to win the vote of confidence in the parliament. Despite the party whip to vote in favour of the vote of confidence motion, the lawmakers from the UML faction, with 28 votes, did not stand for Oli due to the escalated feud within the party.

The government was pushed into minority after CPN (Maoist Centre) on May 5 withdrew its support for Oli extended in February 2018. Oli, however, had decided to take the vote of confidence on May 2 even before the CPN (Maoist Centre) withdrew its support.

After losing the vote of confidence Oli has been relieved of the prime ministerial position as per Article 100 (3) of the Constitution of Nepal, according to constitutional experts.

House Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota has written to President Bidya Devi Bhandari after the voting, informing her that Oli has lost the majority in the parliament, which allows her to open the door for the formation of a new government.

"Oli is just a caretaker government after losing the vote of trust," Bipin Adhikari, an expert on constitution who is a former dean at Kathmandu University School of Law, told Xinhua. "Now the president should start the process towards the formation of a coalition government."

"The president has called for the formation of the government as per Article 76(2) by Thursday evening, " said Keshab Prasad Ghimire, spokesperson at the President's Office Monday night .

Currently, Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Centre) and Janata Samajbadi Party are under negotiations to form a government.

The Nepali Congress has 63 seats, with two of them suspended having no voting right while CPN (Maoist Centre) has 49 lawmakers. Similarly, Janata Samajbadi Party has 34 lawmakers, including two suspended having no voting right. The formation of the coalition government is only possible if the three parties come together.

President of the Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba, Chairperson of the CPN (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Upendra Yadav, Chair of Janata Samajbadi Party, while addressing the parliament on Monday, said the process for the formation of a coalition government should begin.

However, the three parties have not reached an agreement yet. While the Nepali Congress and the CPN (Maoist Centre) are ready to do so, the Janata Samajbadi Party is divided within itself as one of its factions is against the idea.

Deuba, Dahal and Yadav on Monday evening urged President Bidya Devi to call for a coalition government as per Article 76 (2) of the constitution. The president is now supposed to appoint as the prime minister a member of the House of Representatives who can command majority with the support of two or more parties in the House.

Oli hasn't resigned yet despite losing the trust of the parliament, but that doesn't stop the president from making calls for the formation of the new government.

Constitutional experts say if the three parties fail to form a coalition government, the president will then allow Oli to form a government as a parliamentary party leader of the single largest party. Article 76 (3) of the constitution allows the largest party to form a government if a coalition government is not possible.

"Oli will have to seek vote of confidence in 30 days once (he) gets appointed as a prime minister as a leader of the largest party," Purna Man Shakya, a professor at Nepal Law Campus, told Xinhua. However, the country may head towards the dissolution of the House once again if Oli fails to get the vote of confidence even after he forms a new government.

Oli had dissolved the House of Representatives while he was still leading a majority government in December last year. The Supreme Court on Feb. 23 overturned the decision saying it was unconstitutional.

Addressing the House of Representatives before Monday's vote of confidence motion was tabled, Oli had said his government always worked for nationalism, development and taking the country towards the path of prosperity.

"I decided to take a vote of confidence because I believe the parliament has righty assessed the works by the government," he said in the parliament. "There is no reason why the government shouldn't get trust vote."

Oli's Nepal Communist Party (NCP) won elections in late 2017 and in early 2018 he was chosen to be prime minister by the parliament. A split in his party in March this year weakened him, prompting him to call the vote of confidence in an attempt to demonstrate he still had enough support to stay in power.

However, a new split after he had decided on calling the confidence vote took place, leading to his defeat.

Oli has also been criticized for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the country reporting its largest number of new cases and deaths in the past few days.

Authorities have imposed a lockdown in most parts of the country since last month, while hospitals are reportedly running out of beds, oxygen and medication as the situation keeps worsening.

On Monday, the country reported 9,127 cases, the highest increase yet. Nearly 4,000 people have died since the pandemic began, according to official figures.

"Our situation is pathetic and helpless," Sameer Kumar Adhikari, joint spokesperson at the health ministry, said on Sunday.

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