July 25, 2021

In Nepal, justice brings former prime minister Deuba back in the saddle

The old faces seen and reviewed of Nepalese politics continue to parade tirelessly at the head of the small Himalayan republic. On Tuesday July 13, in the early evening, Sher Bahadur Deuba was sworn in before the Head of State, Bidya Devi Bhandari, as the new Prime Minister of Nepal, a function entrusted to him for the fifth time in a quarter of century.

The ceremony took place in a rush at the Presidential Palace of Sheetal Niwas, in Kathmandu, the day after yet another national psychodrama. The return of the leader of the Nepalese Congress party on the front of the stage is indeed neither the result of legislative elections nor of a change of alliance in Parliament, but of an injunction of the Supreme Court, which wished to put an end, Monday, to the institutional crisis which had lasted since December 2020. This is the first time that the judiciary has taken such an initiative. He did so under Nepal’s new constitution, which entered into force in 2015, considering democracy to be in danger.

“The Court finally applied the emergency brake to prevent the derailment of democracy, while the Prime Minister and the President kept tampering with the Constitution. Its verdict signals the triumph of constitutionalism and shows that the judiciary can come to the rescue of politics, when all options have been exhausted ”, welcomed the Kathmandu Post in its editorial of July 13.

Opposition between Marxist-Leninists and Maoists

Just over six months ago, Marxist-Leninist Khadga Prasad “KP” Sharma Oli, who was leading the Nepalese government for the third time in his career, suddenly ordered the dissolution of parliament and the call of early elections. The climate had become untenable with the Maoists members of the ruling team, while the two communist currents had merged in 2018.

In February, the Supreme Court annulled this first dissolution, restored parliamentarians to their full rights and invited Mr. Oli to prove within thirty days that he still had a majority. The latter did not comply until May, except that the vote of confidence called for in Parliament turned into a motion of censure and he was then disowned.

Mr. Oli tendered his resignation to President Bhandari but subsequently no opposition party managed to muster a majority, despite the desperate attempts of the Nepalese Congress of Mr. Deuba and the Maoists led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, said “Prachanda” (“the fierce”), himself prime minister twice, to form an alliance of circumstance.

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