Nepal has plunged into fresh political turmoil on Saturday as Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari dissolved the parliament on Friday midnight and ordered fresh polls on November 12 and 19.
The decision was made on the recommendation of the Cabinet headed by embattled Prime Minister KP Oli. The surprise move to dissolve the parliament comes after a presidential statement said neither the caretaker Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, the incumbent Prime Minister, nor opposition leader Sher Bahadur Deuba was able to demonstrate a majority to form a new government by the Friday deadline set by Bhandari.
The recommendation made by Prime Minister Oli was quickly endorsed by President. A press statement issued by the office of President late Friday night said the parliament was dissolved and dates of midterm polls were announced as per Article 76(7) as recommended by Prime Minister Oli.
“The President has dissolved the House of Representatives and ordered the first phase of general elections on November 12and the second phase on November 19,” a presidential statement said.
Soon after the parliament was dissolved and the fresh election was announced, the opposition parties criticized the move. “People are fighting the pandemic, and is this the gift to the people? This is a different type of Kotparba, and the PM is riding on his imaginary highway of dictatorship. A raping of the constitution will prove costly.” Bishwa Prakash Sharma, spokesperson of Nepali Congress, the main opposition party said. Barsha Man Pun, Maoist Center leader, said, “This is a midnight robbery. Gyanendra Shah used to choose Fridays and midnights for similar moves.”
Oli was recently reappointed as the Prime Minister after the opposition parties fail to form a coalition government. KP Oli had submitted his list of 153 supporters and it was four more than the list submitted by Sher Bahadur Deuba, President of Nepali Congress. Both leaders had claimed the majority to form the government.
Oli, who was elected the Prime Minister of the majority government 39 months ago for a five-year term was reduced to minority after the CPN- Maoist withdraws support to his government.
This is the second time the parliament was dissolved. On December 20 last year also, Oli had dissolved the parliament and announced elections for April 30 and May 10. The move was later quashed by the Supreme Court and the House was reinstated.
The Supreme Court on March 7, invalidated the Nepal Communist Party, which the two parties had formed in 2018, and revived the CPN- UML, and CPN- Maoist Centre.
Nepal is in the grips of a devastating second wave of the coronavirus. Hospitals in Kathmandu, the capital, are flooded with coronavirus patients who are lying on the ground gasping for oxygen. Many coronavirus patients lost their life due to the lack of oxygen. Many private and community hospitals in Kathmandu have refused to take any more patients due to a lack of oxygen. The health system of Nepal cracked under the strain of surging coronavirus cases.
Now, the Himalayan country of 30 million people is even more helpless than India. The data tracking site of Oxford University shows a staggering 668% increase in confirmed Coronavirus cases in the two weeks to 1 May, compared with the previous fortnight. Similarly, the Red Cross reported that, nationally, 44% of all tests were positive.
Nepal currently has only 1,600 ICU beds and fewer than 600 ventilators with just 0.7 doctors per 100,000 people, according to the report of ActionAid Nepal. The country doesn’t have the resources to produce its oxygen and the oxygen shipment has been halted due to the border closure.
In these crucial times, all political parties should have been united to battle the pandemic but they are engaged in political and power games. The government has faced widespread criticism for the poor handling of the pandemic. This is a time where all leaders should be united but unfortunately, they are engaged in political drama and tricks to stay in power.
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