KATHMANDU, May 22: The embattled Prime Minister K P Oli has dissolved parliament and announced midterm elections of the lower house of federal parliament in November.
An emergency cabinet meeting held at midnight Friday made a decision to recommend President Bidya Devi Bhandari to dissolve parliament and announce dates of holding midterm elections of the House of Representatives in two phases. The cabinet has recommended holding the first phase of the poll on November 12 and the second phase on November 19.
The recommendation made by Prime Minister Oli was quickly endorsed by President Bhandari. 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.
Prime Minister Oli called the emergency cabinet at midnight shortly after President Bhandari issued statement that there were no credible grounds of the claims made earlier on Friday by both Oli and the main opposition party leader Sher Bahadur Deuba to have support of majority lawmakers to form new government as per Article 76(5)
Earlier, President Bhandari had invited a member of parliament who can garner support of majority lawmakers in parliament to stake claim for the formation of new government under his/her leadership. Prime Minister Oli staked claim for the formation of new government saying that he had support of 153 lawmakers, while the Nepali Congress (NC) President Deuba claimed that he had support of 149 lawmakers in parliament.
With four lawmakers in the 275-member House of Representatives dismissed by their party after they chose to be part of another party, a prime ministerial candiate requires support of at least 136 lawmakers in parliament to form a new government. Both Oli and Deuba, however, had claimed support of some lawmakers, whose names were included in the list of both of them.
Prime Minister Oli called an emergency cabient meeting and took decision to dissolve parliament as President Bhandari rejected claims of both the leaders to have majority in parliament to form a new government. According to Government's Spokesperson and Minister for Communications and Information Technology Parbat Gurung, the cabinet recommendations to hold midterm election in two phases in November has already been sent to the Office of President.
Opposition parties including Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Center) and others have termed the prime minister's abrupt move a planned conspiracy to sabotage constitution and derail the ongoing political course in the country as mid-term elections are less likely anytime soon in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is likely to fall in a fresh constitutional crisis if the election is not held within six months of the dissolution of parliament.
Prime Minister Oli's abrupt move to dissolve parliament barely a week after he lost a crucial vote of confidence in parliament is likely to push the country to a fresh political polarization with opposition parties vehemently criticising the move of Prime Minister Oli and President Bhandari. In his preliminary reaction, NC leader Ramesh Lekhak alleged that President Bhandari, who is supposed to be custodian of constitution, had torn apart the constitution itself. The Maoist Center leader Barsha Man Pun alleged that the country's democracy was hijacked in midnight by Prime Minister Oli and President Bhandari.