Nepal plunged into another round of political instability on Monday as the country’s second-largest party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), withdrew its support for Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda.” The move came following a rift over the presidential candidate supported by Prachanda, who leads a coalition government backed by the main opposition party Nepali Congress.
The presidential election in Nepal is scheduled to be held on March 9. The decision of the CPN-UML to withdraw its support may not immediately affect the Prachanda-led government, which still has the backing of Nepali Congress, with 89 lawmakers in the House. However, it has created a political crisis that could lead to the collapse of the government and the need for fresh elections.
Bishnu Rijal, deputy chief of the CPN-UML’s central publicity committee, said the decision to withdraw support was taken at a high-level meeting of the party held under the leadership of party chief K P Sharma Oli. Rijal accused Prachanda of violating the December 25 agreement while forming the seven-party coalition government and betraying the CPN-UML. The UML ministers, including deputy prime minister and finance minister Bishnu Poudyal and foreign minister Bimala Rai Poudyal, submitted their resignations to the PM. There were eight UML ministers in the Prachanda-led government.
The CPN-UML has 79 lawmakers in the 275-member House, while the CPN-Maoist Centre has 32. The CPN-Unified Socialist and Rashtriya Swatantra Party have 10 and 20 members, respectively. The Janamat Party has six members, the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party has four, and the Nagarik Unmukti Party has three members in the parliament. With the support of Nepali Congress, CPN-Maoist Centre, and RSP, the government has the backing of at least 141 lawmakers. Prachanda needs only 138 votes in parliament to continue as the prime minister. However, according to constitutional experts, the prime minister must face a vote of confidence within 30 days.
“The Prachanda-led government is required to seek a vote of confidence in the parliament after the major ruling alliance CPN-UML withdrew its support,” said senior Nepali Congress leader Prakash Man Singh. “However, the government led by Prachanda will have no difficulty in surviving the vote with the support from Nepali Congress and other political parties,” he added.
Singh said that Nepali Congress would certainly join the coalition government as the old seven-party alliance had already broken with the emergence of a new eight-party alliance. The eight-party alliance includes Nepali Congress, CPN-Maoist Centre, CPN-Unified Socialist, Nagarik Unmukti Party, Janamat Party, Janta Samajwadi Party, Lokatantrik Samajwadi Party, and Rastriya Janamorcha.
Nepal has had 11 governments since it abolished its 239-year-old monarchy in 2008 and became a republic. The country’s political landscape is characterized by frequent government changes and coalition formations, leading to instability and political paralysis. The current crisis is likely to exacerbate the existing problems, and the country may face a prolonged period of political uncertainty.
The political instability in Nepal has been further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely impacted the country’s economy and healthcare system. The country has been struggling to cope with the pandemic, with limited healthcare infrastructure and resources. The political crisis is likely to further impede the country’s response to the pandemic and exacerbate the socio-economic challenges faced by the Nepalese