The Supreme Court of Nepal on January 27, 2023 delivered a stunning setback to the new government in Kathmandu and declared that the Home Minister of Nepal Rabi Lamichhane is not a Nepalese citizen. Following the verdict from a constitutional bench of the Court on Friday Mr. Lamichhane — whose Rashtriya Swatantra Party emerged as the kingmaker in the November 2022 election — is expected to lose the seat in the Parliament.
“Mr. Lamichhaney will have to resign from the post of the Home Minister as well as the post of Deputy Prime Minister. He will also have to resign from the post of the member of Parliament. The Government of Nepal had earlier ordered investigation into his citizenship and that investigation will continue, “ said his lawyer Raman Karna on phone from Kathmandu.
Mr. Lamichhaney who made his mark as a highly popular TV anchor had been under the shadow of controversy over his alleged American citizenship. He had claimed that he had renounced US citizenship before contesting election but the court found that he had not completed the process for acquiring Nepalese citizenship. “I am a non-citizen, a nobody. I have no answers,” Mr. Lamichhane told in media in Kathmandu before submitting the letter of resignation to Prime Minister Prachanda.
The left-dominated government of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda was sworn-in on December 26 2022. Mr. Lamichhane who had emerged as the most important political player with twenty elected MPs from his newly formed Rashtriya Swatantra Party was sworn in as the Home Minister. The investigation into the issue of his citizenship was being dealt by the Home Ministry and he soon attracted criticism for conflict of interest.
The issue of citizenship is a sensitive matter in contemporary Nepal where several communities are agitating for equal rights and claims to citizenship. The verdict on Mr. Lamichhane is the first political setback for the month old government of PM Prachanda and is expected to strengthen the position of former PM K P Sharma Oli who is the other leader of the ruling coalition.