Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is likely to expand his Cabinet with the induction of eight new ministers amid the political deadlock that has divided the country’s ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) into two factions. Oli, under fire from his own former allies and the Opposition, held a Cabinet meeting on Friday evening.
At present, Nepal’s Cabinet has 18 members, including ministers and ministers of state. Earlier this month, seven ministers loyal to NCP leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, resigned from the Cabinet citing PM Oli’s decision to dissolve Nepal’s 275-member House of Representatives. Giriraj Mani Pokharel, Barsha Man Pun, Ghanashyam Bhusal, Yogesh Bhattarai, Shakti Basnet, Rameshwar Raya Yadav and Beena Magar were among those who resigned from the Cabinet in protest.
The Cabinet is likely to be expanded to include Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Prabhu Sah, Mani Thapa, Gauri Shankar Chaudhary, Dava Lama, Prem Ale, Bimala BK and Ganesh Thagunna. All of these politicians reportedly favour the Oli faction of NCP against the one controlled by Prachanda.
On Friday, Nepal’s Supreme Court issued a notice to the KP Sharma Oli-led government seeking a written clarification over its decision to dissolve the Nepalese Parliament. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana issued the notice while hearing a write petition challenging the government’s move.
In addition, the court also asked the Oli government to submit an original copy of recommendations made to President Bidya Devi Bhandari following which she gave her assent to the dissolution of the Parliament. Nepal’s Supreme Court has also demanded an amicus curiae from the Nepal Bar Association and Nepal’s Supreme Court Bar Association to assist the court with the case.
Meanwhile, Oli’s former allies and the Nepalese Opposition mounted an all-out attack on his government. Senior politicians ‘Prachanda’, Nepal Congress leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal, and Narayan Kaji Shrestha were seen together at a protest rally in Kathmandu.
Eyewitness accounts suggest that nearly 300 Central Committee members of the NCP along with close to 100 members of the now-dissolved Nepalese House of Representatives also took part in the rally.
Aided by the Opposition, the Prachanda-led faction of the Nepal Communist Party is now seeking to approach the country’s election commission. Their strategy it seems is to establish themselves as the sole representative of the NCP.