NCP indecision over new speaker holding lower house hostage
December 28, 2019 08:09 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Dec 28: Important business for the winter session of parliament remains obstructed due to the indecision of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) over who to pick as the new speaker of the House of Representatives.
The lower house has been unable to sit after its very first meeting since the commencement of the winter session of parliament on December 20. A meeting scheduled for Friday has been postponed until Wednesday at the request of the ruling NCP. Party leaders have sought more time to forge a consensus over the candidate for new speaker.
Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe on Friday informed leaders of various political parties represented in parliament about her plan to postpone the lower house meeting, citing the indecision of the NCP about the speaker candidate.
“We had planned to announce the election date for speaker today (Friday) but decided to postpone the meeting itself as it was learnt that the NCP has not finalized a candidate,” said main opposition party Nepali Congress (NC) whip, Pushpa Bhusal.
Although Prime Minister and Chairperson of the NCP, KP Oli, and party Executive Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal were expected to finalize a party candidate for new speaker, the two failed to even meet on Friday as the prime minister had to rush to hospital for his regular dialysis.
“The two chairmen didn’t have any meeting as the prime minister left for hospital for his regular dialysis,” said Oli’s press adviser, Surya Thapa.
At least 39 bills are pending in parliament while five other bills that have been endorsed from both houses have not come into effect as they are yet to be certified by the speaker.
The lower house speakership has been lying vacant for the last three months after the resignation of former speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara from the post in early October following charges of attempted rape.
The winter session also has the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant compact with the US awaiting its endorsement.
“Postponement of the meeting from the very beginning of the winter session has exposed a lack of seriousness on the part of the ruling party over pending parliamentary business,” said NC Whip Bhusal.
The government first delayed the commencement of the winter session after the NCP failed to hold internal discussions on picking a speaker candidate because the prime minister was hospitalized.
Although the session began after the two-party chairmen agreed to pick multiple-times former speaker Subas Nembang as new speaker, the decision sparked an internal dispute in the party. Many former Maoist leaders protested. Leaders said choosing a speaker has become even more fraught for the NCP as it entails managing the different factions.