President asks parties to stake claim to form government by today evening


President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers, today asked parties represented in the House of Representatives to stake claim to form the next government under Article 76 (5) of the constitution by 5:00pm tomorrow, a move that has been condemned by legal experts.

According to a press release issued by the president's office, the government today decided to pave the way for the formation of a new government as Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who is required to seek vote of confidence within 30 days, thinks that the situation is no different from the one that existed on May 10 when the PM lost the trust vote.

Earlier during the Cabinet meeting today, the PM told his colleagues that he would not seek a trust vote and would rather recommend the president to initiate the process of forming the next government under Article 76 (5) of the constitution, according to a minister.

As per Article 76 (5) of the constitution, any lawmaker who commands majority in the Lower House can stake claim to form the government. At present, any lawmaker who stakes claim to form the government will need the support of 136 lawmakers. However, with the Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal a divided house that is unlikely.

But, if 28 UML lawmakers of the Madhav Kumar Nepal-Jhalanath Khanal faction resign from the HoR en masse and at least 12 lawmakers of the Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal back the Nepali Congress and the CPN-Maoist Centre a government can be formed. UML lawmakers close to Nepal and Khanal had threatened to resign from the House en masse, but put off their plan as a taskforce to iron out their differences with the Oli faction has been formed.

If a new government cannot be formed under this article, then Oli can invoke Article 76 (7) and recommend dissolution of the HoR.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 21, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.