Nepal Congress & CPN-UML forge new alliance; KP Sharma Oli to become next PM

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Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN-UML) have struck a midnight deal to form a new alliance, leaders from both parties confirmed.

With this, the new government formed on March 4 is set to collapse and a formal announcement is expected soon.

As per the agreement signed in between Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and the UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli, an agreement of sharing one and half year’s tenure each has been reached in between the leaders.

KP Sharma Oli will lead the new government expected to be formed soon for one and half years and then will hand over to Sher Bahadur Deuba for the remaining one and half year term until the next election.

“Agreement has been signed between Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Debua and UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli overnight to form a new government. As per which Oli will lead the government for next one and half years and Deuba the remaining time until the election which lies three years ahead,” a senior Nepali Congress leader present in the meeting held overnight told.

The two parties exclude the incumbent government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda also agreed on the division of the ministries, as per the leader from the UML.

“The party who will be leading the government will not get the Home Ministry has been agreed. Apart from the union government, the CPN-UML will be forming a government in Koshi, Lumbini and Karnali provinces while the Congress will lead the Bagmati, Gandaki and Far-Western provinces. The Madhesh-based parties will lead the government in Madhesh Province has been agreed in between the two leaders,” the leader confirmed ANI.

The new alliance also has formed a committee to give suggestions on amending the election procedures and the constitution under the leadership of former Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha.

In the overnight agreement, the largest and the second largest party in the parliament also drafted a constitutional amendment agreement where it was stated that the Vice President would be made the chairman of the National Assembly.

Prior to the signing of the agreement, leaders from the Congress as well as the UML also reached President Ram Chandra Paudel and informed him about the change in the coalition.

During the meeting, the leaders informed the President about activating Section 76 (2) to form a new government in case the incumbent Prime Minister failed to take a vote of confidence after UML withdrew its support.

PM Prachanda should take the vote of confidence again from the parliament after any of the party on board the government withdraws support. Dahal who came to power right after the 2022 general elections, already has tested the floor of parliament for a record four times.

There has been no immediate reaction from the Maoist Center led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal over the change in coalition but on Monday’s cabinet meeting, Dahal had briefed ministers on board that the alliance will remain intact.

“The reports in the media are just rumours. We are still in dialogue with our coalition partners,” said Rekha Sharma, Minister for Communication and Information Technology, quoting Dahal, “The Prime Minister briefed us on the internal situation and dismissed external rumours.”

According to Minister Sharma, Dahal mentioned that he has been in continuous communication with UML Chairman Oli.

“I have been in regular dialogue with UML Chairman Oli. We are in discussions on all matters,” Dahal stated in the Cabinet meeting, “The ongoing talks are just rumours. This coalition will last long.” He also reassured that there is no need to worry about the stability of the current government.

“There are concerns about what will happen to this government, but there will be no changes,” Dahal said, adding, “Some want this coalition to be short-lived, but we are determined to keep this government stable for a long time.”

Earlier on March 4, Dahal made a surprising turn by deciding to revive a coalition with the CPN-UML which caught the largest coalition partner, NC, off guard.

A new coalition including the CPN-UML, CPN-Maoist Center, Rastriya Swatantra Party, and Janata Samajwadi Party was initially formed.

The following day (on March 5), the Nepali Congress formally retracted support to the Dahal government activating Article 100 Sub-section (2). A Prime Minister is required to cross the threshold of 50 percent which is 138 votes as per the present number of parliamentarians.

The Janata Samajbadi Party Nepal walked out of the government after the formal split and now is in opposition.

The former Maoist rebel leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal came to power in December 2022 when he aligned with arch-rival CPN-UML duping the Nepali Congress with whom he had forged alliance in the November 2022 election.

The vote of confidence on January 10 last year, resulted in extensive support for Dahal when he got a staggering 99 per cent vote, the highest in the known history of the Nepali parliament since the establishment of democracy.

A total of 268 parliamentarians out of 270 present in that meeting had voted in favour of Dahal.

However, within three months, Dahal dumped CPN-UML to walk out of government again aligning with Nepali Congress and managed to secure a majority in the vote of confidence on March 20 last year.

In the second round of the vote of confidence, Dahal got 172 votes out of 262 lawmakers present at the time of voting. Only 89 votes came in against Dahal while one member abstained from voting.

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