June 11, 2012
On June 8, 22 opposition parties in Nepal launched a campaign to remove Maoist leader and “caretaker prime minister” Baburam Bhattarai from power on the grounds that his dismissal of the Constituent Assembly (CA) and his “unilateral” calling for new elections were illegal. At the rally, they denounced Baburam’s latest action as but the latest of a long series of ruses employed by the Maoists to achieve their ultimate goal: to establish totalitarian rule in Nepal.
On the same day, the Supreme Court issued a “show cause” notice to the Bhattarai government over its decision to dissolve the CA and to announce fresh polls. A single bench of Chief Justice Khilaraj Regmi issued the order acting on a writ filed by a group of senior advocates seeking annulment of the cabinet decision to hold fresh polls on November 22. They have appealed to the apex court to reinstate the CA for a day, since Bhattarai dissolved the CA without holding a formal meeting. Bhattarai, meanwhile, claimed the Constituent Assembly was dissolved because there was no other option before the government.
Legal analysts have stated that – within the interim constitution – two articles stand out.
One is Article 63, which specified two years for the CA: This was amended four times and the attempt to extend it for the fifth time was thwarted by the Supreme Court. The second is Article 158, which states that if any difficulty arises in connection with the implementation of the constitution, the President, on the recommendation of the council of ministers, may issue orders to resolve it with the proviso that it has to be endorsed by the parliament within a month.
The question then: How can parliament endorse any presidential order if they no longer exist?
At the June 8 rally, prominent leaders included Nepali Congress (NC) president Sushil Koirala and vice president Ramchandra Poudyal; former prime ministers Sher Bahadur Deuba; Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal from CPN-UML; Surya Bahadur Thapa from Rastriya Janashakti Party; and Lokendra Bahadur Chanda from Rastriya Prajatantra Party.
Now it’s the Maoists’ turn. On June 15, Bhattarai’s party plans to show its muscles with a rally to justify the move to hold elections on November 22.
Once again, it seems, the struggle for creating a democracy in Nepal will be choreographed in the street.