Nepal | January 18, 2021

Oli draws flak for appointing new ministers

Experts say he had no right to do so as a caretaker PM

Himalayan News Service
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Politicians and experts say Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has violated political morality and the spirit of the constitution by appointing nine new ministers while being a caretaker PM.

This image shows the newly appointed ministers taking oath of office and secrecy during the meeting of the Council of Ministers at Prime Minister’s official residence in Baluwatar, Kathmandu, on Friday, December 25, 2020. Photo: PM’s Private Secretariat/Rajan Kafle

Former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai said today that when he led the caretaker government in 2012 to oversee elections, nine Cabinet portfolios fell vacant after coalition partners resigned, but he did not appoint new ministers for nine months. “I myself oversaw five-six ministries and assigned other vacant portfolios to other Cabinet ministers. I did not expand the Cabinet as that would have violated political morality,”

Bhattarai said while addressing a protest rally organised by his Janata Samajwadi Party-Nepal in Kathmandu against the dissolution of the House of Representatives.

Senior Advocate Chandra Kanta Gyawali said Oli acted as an Executive Prime Minister when he inducted new ministers after the HoR was dissolved which was against the spirit of the constitution. “The PM lost his executive status the day he dissolved the HoR. The tenure of all members of the HoR, including the PM ended with the government’s decision to dissolve the Lower House,” Gyawali said. He added that the Oli government was merely a caretaker government which should only take care of day-to-day administration and hold the polls on stipulated dates.

“This government should assist the Election Commission by bringing ordinance to conduct polls, particularly elections related ordinance, if the EC needs new laws to conduct polls. The government can neither take decisions that will have long term impact on the country nor can it make political appointments,” he argued.

Democratic norms have evolved over hundreds of years and one of the norms is that the caretaker government should not take decisions that can have long-term impact on the country, said political scientist Kapil Shrestha.

“As a caretaker prime minister, Oli does not have the power to expand his Cabinet,” he added. He said if the government continued to violate democratic norms then Nepal, which was trying to redeem its image, would be painted as a rogue state.

However, Senior Advocate Surendra Kumar Mahto said since running the government was defined as day to day affairs, the PM was well within his rights to appoint new ministers, but he should not take any policy decisions till a new government is formed after the polls.


A version of this article appears in print on December 28, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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