Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and the rival faction of the ruling party led by Pushpa Kumar Dahal aka Prachanda are emerging towards a conflict this week over the possible appointment of former Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai as the next head of the main anti-corruption watchdog of the Himalayan nation. .
President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Tuesday afternoon signed an executive order to reduce the quorum for meetings of the constitutional council headed by a prime minister, which is entitled to appoint officials of constitutional bodies as the powerful Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority.
The ordinance was issued hours after a speaker of the House of Representatives, Agni Sapkota, skipped the council meeting, forcing Prime Minister Oli to reschedule it later in the evening. “The speaker was unable to attend the Constitutional Council meeting because of the lack of preparations and homework … There was also no coordination on the part of the [council] president, ”Sapkota press adviser Shreedhar Neupane said, according to the Kathmandu Post.
After the ordinance, which drops the quorum of the six-member council to four, was issued, Prime Minister Oli convened the council meeting again on Tuesday evening.
In addition to Prime Minister Oli, the other members of the council are chief justice, speaker, deputy speaker, speaker of the National Assembly and the leader of the opposition. The deputy speaker is vacant.
“Today’s meeting of the Constitutional Council discussed the appointments to various vacant constitutional commissions,” National Assembly Speaker Ganesh Prasad Timilsina said after the meeting, according to Nepal’s website Kantipur. He did not elaborate.
Nepali observers said Prime Minister Oli is eagerly asking the council to appoint former Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai to head the powerful Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority as its chief commissioner. The commission is mandated by the constitution to investigate persons holding public office and their partners for corruption.
Leaders of the Prachanda faction within the ruling party stress that any appointment by the Oli-led government before making consultations with the Prachanda faction would be a violation of the peace treaty between Prime Minister Oli and Prachanda.
One of the conditions for allowing Prime Minister Oli to continue as chairman and prime minister of NCP was for him to consult the party board before a political decision or key appointment.
Prime Minister Oli’s rivals suspect the prime minister would like the anti-corruption commission to investigate Prachanda and his partners, who have rallied him to resign.
The NCP was formed in 2018 with the merger of the Communist Party of Nepal against Oli (United Marxist-Leninist) and the Communist Party of Nepal led by Prachanda (Maoist Center). The honeymoon, however, did not last long and the merged entity that came to power, the NCP, is looking at a separation of months.
Prime Minister Oli’s swift effort to get the appointment of the anti-corruption watchdog is headed immediately ahead of the Communist Party’s standing committee meeting, where Prachanda and his partners including former Prime Minister Madhav Nepal expect pressure on Prime Minister Oli to resign and move forward with key appointments only after consulting them.