Thousands of anti-government protesters threw confetti and chanted slogans in Nepal’s capital on February 24 to celebrate Parliament’s reinstatement by the Supreme Court.
The court ruled on February 23 that Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli’s decision in December to dissolve the legislature was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court said a meeting of the reinstated Parliament must be called within 13 days.
The jubilant demonstrators applauded the court’s decision and demanded Oli’s immediate dismissal. Since Parliament’s dissolution in December, there have been regular street protests against Oli by tens of thousands of people in Kathmandu and other cities.
Oli decided to dissolve Parliament and hold new elections because of an escalating feud within his governing Nepal Communist Party.
He became prime minister after the party won elections three years ago. Oli’s party and the party of former Maoist rebels had merged to form a strong Communist party to win the elections.
However, there has been a power struggle between Oli and the leader of the former Maoists rebels, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who is also co-chair of the party. The two had previously agreed that they would split the five-year prime minister’s term between them, but Oli has refused to allow Dahal to take over.
A splinter group led by Dahal is organizing the street protests and his supporters are among those who filed cases with the Supreme Court.
Other opposition parties have repeatedly accused Oli’s government of corruption, and his administration has faced criticism over its handling of the coronavirus.
Oli also has been accused of moving closer to China and drifting away from Nepal’s traditional partner, India, since taking power. This has caused problems between India and Nepal.
The prime minister has not made any public comments since the ruling, which has put him in a difficult position because he will not have the support of a majority of lawmakers.
Without the support of Dahal’s splinter group in Parliament, Oli would have difficulty remaining in office. However, no party holds a majority to form a new government, which is likely to lead to a political crisis.
By Binaj Gurubacharya for the Associated Press in Kathmandu, Nepal.