President vs Prime Minister
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The heightened tussle between Baburam Bhattarai and Ram Baran Yadav makes the road ahead less clear
A month after the demise of the Constituent Assembly, Nepalese actors appear more confused about the way forward. A power-tussle between President Ram Baran Yadav and caretaker Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai further compounds the confusion. Bhattarai said he will hand over power only to a prime minister elected after the general elections scheduled for November 22. But Yadav, after consultations with legal and constitutional experts, seems to have inferred that with the constitutionally defined term of the House over, Bhattarai should not be allowed to continue.
Bhattarai insists he will not quit. He has said that his "quitting now may lead to a return of February 1" — implying that it may bring the absolute monarchy back. Former King Gyanendra had assumed all executive powers on February 1, 2005, only to return it to political parties nine months later, under pressure of a mass movement backed by the international community, including India. But the period until now has led to a loss of face for the parties, including the Maoists, resulting in chaos and constitutional breakdown.
Altogether, 78 members of the dissolved CA belonging to the Nepali Congress submitted a petition seeking the revival of the House to finish the constitution-writing task. The move has the quiet support of Maoist chief Prachanda, as the revival of the House may also restore his position as leader of the biggest party in the House. Then, he may also be able to seek disqualification of party members who have formed the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists under the anti-defection law. Besides, there is much at stake for the international community since they had invested so much in forming lobbyists. Yet, reviving a House that wears the stigma of failure does not have popular support, and it is likely to be contested politically.
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