Hundreds protest against Nepali PM’s sudden dissolution of parliament

KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli faced a fresh political challenge on Friday as hundreds of opponents protested against his sudden move to dissolve parliament and call elections more than a year ahead of the schedule.

Three former prime ministers joined hundreds of activists who sat on a road near Oli’s office demanding he reverse the decisions announced on Sunday, which have triggered deep political unrest in the Himalayan nation just as it grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ex-premiers said Oli had no power to dissolve parliament and that he had violated the constitution.

“We’ll organise stronger protests against this dissolution by an unrestrained prime minister,” said Prachanda, one former prime minister.

Oli has rejected their demands and vowed to press ahead with parliamentary elections next year, on April 30 and May 10. It is not uncommon for Nepali polls to take place over two days.

The prime minister has lost support within his ruling party this year, with some senior members accusing him of sidelining them in making decision and key appointments, and calling for him to step down.

Oli says internal squabbling and a lack of cooperation from his party has paralyzed decision-making, forcing him to seek a fresh popular mandate.

The Supreme Court is hearing more than a dozen petitions challenging Oli’s dissolution of parliament and calling of early elections. It has given the government until January 3 to provide reasons for the dissolution, said court Bhadrakali Pokharel.

Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Rupam Jain and Pravin Char

IMAGE: Protesters get detained in front of the supreme court as they take part in a protest after the parliament was dissolved and general elections were announced to be held in April and May, more than a year ahead of schedule, in Kathmandu, Nepal December 25, 2020. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

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