KATHMANDU, Jan 21: Nearly four months after the resignation of Krishna Bahadur Mahara from the House speaker, parliament decided to hold the election for new speaker on Sunday.
Seniormost member of the House of Representatives Mahantha Thakur announced the election in the meeting of the parliament on Monday.
The position of House speaker is lying vacant since early October last year after resignation of Mahara from the post following a charge of attempted rape.
“I have fixed the election of speaker of the HoR for January 26, Sunday,” Thakur said in the House and instructed the general secretary of the parliament secretariat to publish the election calendar accordingly.
Ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leader Agni Sapkota is almost certain to get elected to the powerful position given the overwhelming majority of the NCP in the House. The party has already decided to field former minister Sapkota to the post after months-long struggle within the party over speaker candidate. However, his candidacy has drawn controversy with conflict victims protesting as Sapkota is accused in an insurgency-era murder of a schoolteacher in Kavrepalanchowk district and a case against him is sub judice at the Supreme Court.
If the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) didn’t field its candidate for speaker, Sapkota could be elected unopposed. However, the opposition is still undecided. Some NC leaders have proposed fielding party whip Pushpa Bhusal for speaker. The leaders said her candidacy will be a symbolic protest against NCP’s speaker pick, who is accused of murder.
General Secretary of the parliament secretariat Manohar Prasad Bhattarai, publicizing the election calendar, has asked parties to register their candidates for speaker Tuesday. Since the National Assembly elections are scheduled for Thursday, the parliament will vote to elect its leader only on Sunday, according to officials.
In the absence of the speaker, the lower house has not been able to carry out its business even after spending a month since the commencement of the winter session. The immediate task of the newly-elected speaker will be to certify five crucial bills endorsed by the House for authentication from the president, which will then become law.
The lower house has 39 bills and US$ 500 million MCC grant awaiting endorsement.
Although Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe tendered her resignation Monday, the parliament didn’t unveil the election program for deputy speaker after the ruling party could not decide who to support for the post. Due to restrictive provision in the constitution one party cannot hold both speaker and deputy speaker.