NC tells govt to withdraw bill allowing PM acting alone to mobilize army
KATHMANDU, March 26: The main opposition party Nepali Congress (NC) has demanded withdrawal of the Bill on Work, Responsibility and Rights of the National Security Council awaiting approval from the parliament.
The bill seeks to allow the prime minister to independently deploy Nepal Army in case of national emergency.
A meeting of Nepali Congress’ parliamentary committee on Monday concluded that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was moving toward dictatorship by bringing army under his command.
Following the meeting, NC Chief Whip Balkrishna Khand said that the bill is unacceptable as it undermines the spirit of the constitution.
“The bill is against the spirit of the constitution and should be withdrawn,” former defense minister Khand said.
The constitution makes it compulsory for the government to take prior approval from the National Security Council before the president deploys the army. NC leaders say that Oli was undermining the constitution by consolidating power. In a press statement, NC spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma has said that the bill, if endorsed as it is, could adversely affect the longevity of the democratic constitution.
Other parties including Naya Shakti Party have also stood against the bill arguing that such provision would be against the balance of power.
Opposition parties fear that Oli might be heading toward authoritarianism as the Prime Minister’s Office has been consolidating power by bringing one after another important body under its wing.
Since coming to power, Oli has brought the Money Laundering Investigation Department, Inland Revenue Department and the National Investigation Department under the PMO.
The proposed bill, although it still requires the government to seek approval from the seven-member Security Council before it is tabled in the parliament, allows prime minister to deploy army for months without any scrutiny.
“In case of a serious national emergency or when any delay in army mobilization would cause such an emergency and a meeting of the security council is not immediately possible, the council chairperson shall recommend to the government to mobilize the army,” reads section 6 (3) of the bill.
The draft among other things makes the Security Council’s recommendation mandatory for army deployment in major projects, places and heritage sites with security risks. The Security Council is also responsible for recommending criteria for the use and coordination of assistance from a foreign army during national disasters, and draft policies related to the purchase of weapons and armaments for security agencies.