Nepali Congress & CPN-UML strike deal to oust PM 'Prachanda'; to form new alliance: Reports

Nepal's two largest parties - Nepali Congress and CPN-UML - have forged a midnight deal to form a new 'national consensus government' in the politically fragile Himalayan nation to oust Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', media reports said on Tuesday.
Developments in Nepal politics
Developments in Nepal politics

Kathmandu | Nepal's two largest parties - Nepali Congress and CPN-UML - have forged a midnight deal to form a new 'national consensus government' in the politically fragile Himalayan nation to oust Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', media reports said on Tuesday.

The agreement was signed at midnight on Monday by Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba and Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) chairman and former prime minister K P Sharma Oli, and is expected to be made public on Tuesday, MyRepublica news portal reported.

Deuba, 78 and Oli, 72, also met on Saturday to lay the ground for a potential new political alliance between the two parties, following which Oli's CPN-UML ended its association with the Prachanda-led government barely four months after extending support to it, The Kathmandu Post newspaper reported.

The two leaders tentatively agreed to form a new government, amend the Constitution, and work out a power-sharing formula, which they reportedly shared with a few confidants, the report said, quoting multiple senior leaders from both parties.

Under the agreement, Oli will lead a new ‘national consensus government' for a year and a half. Deuba will be the prime minister for the remaining term, the report said, quoting a Nepali Congress leader.

Nepal has had 13 governments in the last 16 years, indicating the fragile nature of the Himalayan nation's political system.

During Oli's tenure, the CPN-UML will take control of ministries, including the Prime Minister's position and the Finance Ministry. Similarly, the Nepali Congress will oversee ten ministries, including the Home Ministry, it said.

According to the agreement, the CPN-UML will lead provincial governments in Koshi, Lumbini and Karnali provinces and the Nepali Congress will lead the provincial governments of Bagmati, Gandaki and Sudurpaschim provinces.

Oli and Deuba have also agreed to involve Madhes-based parties in leading Madhesh Province and have committed to constitutional amendments.

The draft agreement was prepared by a four-member task force, the report said.

It will detail the power-sharing arrangement, propose amendments to the Constitution, review the electoral system, including proportional representation, change national assembly arrangements, and discuss the size of provincial assemblies, according to a task force member.

The deal will be made public by Tuesday, and Oli will stake claim to the post of prime minister later in the day, a CPN-UML minister said.

Differences between Oli and Prime Minister Prachanda had been steadily building, and Oli was unhappy with the recent budget allocations made by the government for the fiscal year 2024-25, which he had publicly spoken about.

Worried by the closed-door meeting between Deuba and Oli, Prachanda had gone to meet Oli to assure that the government is serious about addressing issues raised by CPN-UML, including its concern about the new budget, observers said.

During their meeting on Monday morning, Oli reportedly requested Prachanda to support him by stepping down, the report said.

Prachanda offered Oli the post of prime minister within the current ruling coalition, which the latter turned down, expressing his desire to lead a consensus government, a CPN-UML leader was quoted as saying.

The Nepali Congress has 89 seats in the 275-member House of Representatives, whereas CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre have secured 78 and 32 seats, respectively.

Prachanda, 69, took three votes of confidence in Parliament during his one-and-a-half-year term.

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