Nepal PM Oli resigns; country faces fresh political challenges

Kathmandu, July 24: Nepal's embattled Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli resigned on Sunday (July 24) just before a no-confidence vote which he termed as a conspiracy by "foreign elements" to turn the country into a "laboratory" and obstruct the implementation of the new Constitution, triggering a fresh political turmoil. [Prachanda set to become Nepal PM again]

Oli, who became prime minister last October heading Nepal's eighth government in the past 10 years, has been facing a no-trust motion after the Maoists withdrew support from the coalition government. "I have decided to open the road to elect a new prime minister in this parliament and presented my resignation to the president," 64-year-old Oli told lawmakers who were set to vote on the no-confidence motion.

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Oli resigned after sensing trouble

Oli tendered his resignation after two key ruling alliance partners -- Madhesi People's Rights Forum-Democratic and Rastriya Prajatantra Party -- decided to support the no-confidence motion tabled against him by the Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN-Maoist Centre led by Prachanda. They had accused Oli of not honouring his past commitments.

Oli was ego-centric and self-centres, said Maoist chief Prachanda

Maoist chief Prachanda, who is the favourite to replace Oli, on Friday had accused the Prime Minister of being ego-centric and self-centered and said, "This made us unable to continue to work with him." Oli, however, dismissed all the allegations levelled against him by Prachanda and others while responding to the no-trust motion in the 598-member Parliament. He also backed dialogue to address grievances of Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, who are opposed to the country's new Constitution and had launched protests that led to the blockade of key trading points with India.

"The demands of the agitating Madhesi parties could be addressed through peaceful means of dialogue and the Constitution could be amended to accommodate their demands," he said. "There is no need to return to the agitation," Oli said pointing to the Madhesi parties. He also cautioned the people against conspiracy being hatched to drag the country towards "regression".

He said his resignation would have far-reaching implications for the country and lead to further political instability. "There are occasions when those who spoke the truth were penalised and those who stood for patriotism were punished," he said.

"Foreign elements conspiring"

"Nepal is being developed as a laboratory and foreign elements are conspiring not to implement the constitution," he said, apparently referring to India. Oli said that he came to power nine months ago when the country was in a grave crisis and was "sad" that the government was changing at a time when it is overcoming the hindrances following last year's deadly earthquakes that killed nearly 9,000 people.

"The game for a change in the government at this time is mysterious," the CPN-UML leader said, adding he was punished for doing good work.

Oli said that he came to power nine months ago when the country was in a grave crisis and was "sad" that the government was changing at a time when it is overcoming the hindrances following last year's deadly earthquakes that killed nearly 9,000 people.

The resignation by the Prime Minister has made it easier for the alliance led by Nepali Congress and CPN-Maoist Centre to form a new government. Earlier today, two main coalition partners Rastriya Prajatantra Party and Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum-Democratic led by Bijaya Gachhadar also with drew support from the government.

According to party sources, Prime Minister Oli had given verbal assurance to Prachanda a couple of months ago while signing a 9-point agreement between the two parties that he would pave way for forming a new government led by Prachanda once the budget for the new fiscal year gets endorsed from the Parliament. Now Nepali Congress and CPN-Maoist Centre had signed a seven point agreement for power sharing. The two parties are understood to have reached an agreement for leading the government in the remaining 18 months period of the Parliament turn by turn.

Prachanda is likely to get appointed the Prime Minister to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Oli. The agitating Madhesi parties have said that they would assist the alliance led by Nepali Congress and CPN-Maoist Centre to form a new government, though they would not join the government.

The combined strength of Nepali Congress and Maoist party in the Parliament is 288 in the Parliament, which currently has 596 lawmakers as members. The Nepali Congress-Maoist alliance needed support from other 10 lawmakers to make it a majority and form a new government.

With the support of Madhesi parties with their over 40 lawmakers to the bid of Nepali Congress and Maoist party to unseat Prime Minister Oli and pull down the government, and two ruling parties —Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Democratic with 15 lawmakers and Rastriya Prajatantra Party with 12 lawmakers jumping on the bandwagon, the no-confidence motion was certain to get through in the Parliament with a comfortable majority votes. Nepal has been facing political crisis since the adoption of a new Constitution in September last year.

Madhesis have been opposing new statute

Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, have been opposing the new statute as they fear it would marginalise them by dividing the country into seven provinces. Nearly five-month-long Madhesi protests led to the closure of key trading points with India that led to the shortage of essential supplies in the landlocked country. The blockade of trade points with India ended in February after more than 50 people were killed in clashes with police. Nepal has blamed India for the Madhesi crisis, a charge rejected by New Delhi.

Nepal's relations with India and China

The Maoists decided to oust Oli two months ago after he said he would address the Madhesi concerns and rebuild homes destroyed in earthquakes last year. In his address today, Oli said Nepal-India relations were all-time low during the time he assumed power last year.

However, with his efforts the relations were normalised. He also mentioned the Eminent Peoples Group’s meeting held in Kathmandu last week in which the discussions were held to review various treaties and agreements signed between Nepal and India including the Nepal–India Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950.

"The relations between Nepal and China and the relations between Nepal and India are unique which cannot be compared with one another," he said, adding his efforts have reduced Nepal's economic dependency on a single country. Nepal signed transport and transit treaty with China so that it could have access in both of its borders. Now the people of Nepal would not have to face the difficulty it future like it had at the time of border blockade, he said.

"Nepal should adopt equidistance in relations with its neighbours for the betterment of the country and the people. We respect the sensitivity of both our neighbours and we also expect the same from them."

However, we cannot accept interference in our internal affairs, though we want good relations with or neighbours, he added.

The no-trust motion was democratic just in form, but its a conspiracy in essence, Oli said, adding the motion was not natural and normal in terms of its time, condition and nature. He also said that attempts to bring down his government were made to hinder the implementation of the new Constitution. He warned that the nation would have to pay a high price for it.

The no-trust motion against Oli had the support of 183 Nepali Congress parliamentarians, 70 from CPN-MC and three from CPN-United. The three parties have a combined strength of 292 in Parliament. Oli's Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) currently has 175 elected seats in parliament, far fewer than the 299 needed to win a vote of confidence.


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