PM forced to put off Constitutional Council meeting


Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who yesterday agreed to withdraw the new ordinance that amended key provisions of the Constitutional Council Act, called a meeting of the Constitutional Council this evening, but postponed it after party Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal objected to the convening of the meeting without withdrawing the ordinance.

NCP Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha said Dahal met the PM and asked him to hold the Constitutional Council meeting as per the laws that existed before the ordinance was issued on Tuesday. Constitutional Council is a key body that recommends names for appointments to constitutional bodies.

The new ordinance amended the Constitutional Council Act enabling the council Secretariat to hold its meeting even with three members, including chairperson (prime minister), and take decisions on the basis of majority. Before the ordinance amended the act, the council was required to take decisions on the basis of consensus.

The rival faction of the ruling party, as well as opposition parties, viewed the amendment to the Constitutional Council Act through an ordinance as the PM’s desire to unilaterally make appointments to constitutional bodies.

Prime Minister’s Chief Adviser Bishnu Rimal tried to downplay the issue, saying that he was not aware that the Council meeting was called today. He said there was no reason for the council meeting to be called after the Standing Committee decided to withdraw the new ordinance yesterday. “The meeting might have been scheduled before yesterday’s decision,” he added.

According to Chief Secretary of Nepali Congress Krishna Paudel, NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba, who is also the leader of opposition, received an invitation for the council meeting today, but he told the PM that he would not attend the meeting until the government withdrew the new ordinance.

“For our party president, the new ordinance is undemocratic and against the spirit of the Constitutional Council Act. He will not accept any decision taken in accordance with the new ordinance,”

Paudel added.

Standing Committee member Beduram Bhusal, who is close to Madhav Kumar Nepal, said if the PM did not withdraw the ordinance and decided to hold the Constitutional Council meeting again, then 83 NCP lawmakers, who had signed the petition to demand a special session of the Parliament, would again go to the President’s Office to register their petition.

A minister told THT that the ordinance was not discussed in today’s Cabinet meeting.

Shrestha said he had expected the Cabinet to discuss the ordinance today and recommend its withdrawal to the president. “I do not know why the Cabinet did not discuss the ordinance today,” he said, adding that on Tuesday the ordinance was issued without discussing the issue in the Cabinet.

According to a source, Oli told Dahal today that he would want to meet the president before withdrawing the ordinance.

Nepali Congress lawmaker Radhe Shyam Adhikari said, “The prime minister appears to have called the Constitutional Council meeting to give validity to the new ordinance. Otherwise he should not have called the Constitutional Council meeting in the face of the NCP Standing Committee’s decision to withdraw the ordinance.” He said apparently the PM was not satisfied with the Standing Committee’s decision to withdraw the ordinance.