A day after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli put in his papers, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on Monday called on political parties to elect a new premier through consensus within seven days.
Oli‘s government was relegated to a minority after a key ally, Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre, withdrew support and he announced his resignation in an address to parliament on Sunday, shortly before he was to face a no-trust vote jointly registered by the Nepali Congress and the Maoists, the largest and third largest political parties in the House.
Bhandari’s announcement came after a meeting with Oli, the chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist, Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba and chairman of the Maoist Center, Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”.
During the meeting, Deuba and Prachanda urged the President to speed up the process of government formation senior Nepali Congress leader Bimalendra Nidhi told Hindustan Times.
Though Prachanda is set to become the new prime minister, he might not able of form a government based on consensus as the CPN-UML and RPP-Nepal, the second and fourth largest parties in parliament, are unlikely to extend support to him. This means Nepal will not be able to install a new government within the seven-day deadline set by the president.
Article 298 (2) of Nepal’s Constitution states that if parliament is in session, the new prime minister should be elected within seven days with political consensus. If political parties fail to reach consensus on forming a new government, Parliament will begin the process of electing a new prime minister on the basis of a majority vote.
A seven-point agreement sealed by the Nepali Congress and the Maoists before they registered the no-confidence motion stated that Prachanda will be backed for the post of prime minister and the two parties will seek support from other parties, including those based in the Madesh region.
According to Nidhi, Prachanda enjoys majority support in Parliament and will become the next premier. “Prachanda has 350 votes in his kitty and more will join by the time of the prime minister’s election in the House,” he said.
Nidhi ruled out the formation of a new government based on a consensus vote though he described the president’s call as a positive step.
Ahead of her announcement, the President also removed constitutional hurdles to the formation of a new government in line with the recommendations of the cabinet.
During Monday’s meeting, according to Bhandari’s aide, the president told the leaders that it would be a very difficult task to hold elections to local bodies, state assemblies and legislature, considered key to implementing the new constitution promulgated last September.
She also drew the attention of top three leaders to possible risks in implementing the new constitution if political parties indulge in wrangling.