Nepal PM Prachanda to reshuffle Cabinet, seek confidence vote deferred due to Presidential elections

Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is preparing to reshuffle his Cabinet to fill as many as 16 Ministries, which fell vacant after three political parties pulled out of his government, as part of his efforts to keep the newly formed fragile coalition together.

Updated - March 01, 2023 04:43 pm IST

Published - March 01, 2023 03:10 pm IST - Kathmandu

Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda.) File

Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda.) File | Photo Credit: Reuters

With the crucial Presidential election in Nepal just nine days away, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda will seek a vote of confidence and reshuffle his Cabinet only after the polls, a media report on March 1 quoted officials as saying.

Mr. Prachanda is preparing to reshuffle his Cabinet to fill as many as 16 Ministries, which fell vacant after three political parties pulled out of his government, as part of his efforts to keep the newly formed fragile coalition together.

Government spokesperson Rekha Sharma said Mr. Prachanda will seek a vote of confidence and reshuffle his Cabinet only after the Presidential polls on March 9, the Kathmandu Post newspaper reported.

“The constitutional and legal provision for the Prime Minister to seek a vote of confidence will be followed within the given timeframe,” Mr. Sharma said at the press meeting.

"But we are currently focussed on the Presidential elections.” With the Election Commission issuing an election code of conduct with effect from Wednesday until March 19, the Cabinet can only be reshuffled after that.

Nepal's second largest party in Parliament — CPN-UML — on Monday withdrew its support to the "Prachanda"-led government following a rift over backing the Nepali Congress' candidate for the Presidential poll, plunging the Himalayan nation to another spell of political instability.

The Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) has also quit the government. The Rashtriya Swatantra Party (RSP) has also withdrawn its Ministers from the government. However, it would keep supporting the government from the outside.

With three major parties pulling out of the government, the seven-party ruling coalition has disintegrated. Mr. Prachanda has now joined hands with the Nepali Congress and six other parties and wants a new power-sharing deal at the earliest.

As per the constitutional provision, the Prime Minister needs to seek a vote of confidence within 30 days if a party withdraws its support to the government. Though some leaders had said the coalition could discuss and form a small Cabinet with one or two Ministers from partner parties, that now would not be possible due to the election code.

Minister for Communication and Information Technology Sharma said the ruling coalition was yet to discuss the issue of Cabinet expansion with the partners of the new coalition. “Cabinet reshuffle will happen only after ascertaining which parties are joining the government,” Mr. Sharma told journalists.

On Monday, Prime Minister Prachanda cancelled his Qatar visit given the pressure on him to seek a vote of confidence and the impending elections of the President and the Vice-President. The Election Commission has scheduled the Presidential election on March 9 while the election of the Vice-President will be held on March 17.

An electorate consisting of 332 voters in the Federal Parliament and 550 in the Provincial Assembly will be formed for both elections as per the constitutional provision.

In the 275-member House, the UML has 79 lawmakers while CPN (Maoist Centre) has 32. CPN (Unified Socialist) and RSP have 10 and 20 members, respectively. Janamat Party has 6 members, Loktantrik Samajbadi Party 4 and Nagarik Unmukti Party 3 members in the parliament. Mr. Prachanda needs 138 votes in Parliament to continue as the Prime Minister. With the three major parties, NC (89), CPN-Maoist Centre (32) and RSP (20), Mr. Prachanda has the support of at least 141 lawmakers. The UML will now act as the main Opposition party.

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