Nepal Communist Party's Prachanda-led faction removes KP Sharma Oli as chairman, appoints Madhav Neal to post

The ruling party has now been virtually divided more than two years after it was formed following the merger of CPN-UML led by Oli and CPN-Maoist Centre led by Prachanda. However, a formal split of the party is yet to be announced.

Press Trust of India December 23, 2020 00:02:25 IST
Nepal Communist Party's Prachanda-led faction removes KP Sharma Oli as chairman, appoints Madhav Neal to post

File image of KP Sharma Oli. Reuters

Kathmandu: The ruling Nepal Communist Party's Central Committee faction led by executive chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' on Tuesday removed Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli from the post of chairman and decided to take disciplinary action against him, virtually splitting the party more than two years after its formation.

The Central Committee unanimously nominated senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal as the party's second chairman in place of Oli. Prachanda is the first chairman of the party.

"Now Dahal and Nepal will chair the meetings in turn as stated in the party statue," said Rekha Sharma, a central committee member. "Oli has been expelled as the party chair for going against the party," Sharma was quoted as saying by the Kathmandu Post.

Former prime minister Jhalanath Khanal and former agriculture minister Ghanashyam Bhushal were among the senior leaders who attended the Central Committee meeting of Prachanda-led faction.

Nearly two-thirds of the Central Committee members were present in the meeting. Out of 446 central committee members, 313 were present at the meeting organized by Prachanda-led faction.

Prachanda would be elected as the parliamentary party leader on Wednesday, the paper said, citing party leaders.

The Prachanda-led faction, having majority in all the party committees, has decided to take disciplinary action against Oli on Sunday, the paper said.

The next meeting of the Central Committee has been scheduled for Thursday, said party spokesperson Narayankaji Shrestha.

The Prachanda-led faction has also decided to file a separate petition in the Supreme Court seeking reinstatement of the dissolved House of Representatives. Eleven writ petitions have already been filed in the apex court on Sunday and Monday demanding reinstatement.

The party will also launch nationwide protest rallies in collaboration with other major political parties, said Sunil Manandhar, central member of the party.

Earlier in the day, Oli, one of the two chairmen of the ruling party, organised a separate meeting of the Central Committee leaders close to him at Baluwatar, the prime minister's official residence.

Oli announced a new 1,199-member committee to organise the party's general convention on 18-23 November in Kathmandu next year. Earlier the party's convention was scheduled from 7 to 12 April, 2021.

Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali, a Standing Committee member, was appointed as the new spokesperson of the party by the Oli-led faction.

Nepal on Sunday plunged into a political crisis after Oli got the president to dissolve Parliament, a controversial move amidst a prolonged tussle for power between him and former premier Prachanda within the ruling dispensation.

The move came after the intra-party feud reached a climax in the ruling NCP which has been witnessing a months-long tussle between two factions, one led by 68-year-old Oli and another led by 66-year-old 'Prachanda'.

The ruling party has now been virtually divided more than two years after it was formed following the merger of CPN-UML led by Oli and CPN-Maoist Centre led by Prachanda in May 2018. However, a formal split of the party is yet to be announced.

The Prachanda faction enjoys a majority in the nine-member Secretariat, the highest decision-making body of the party.

Both factions of the party have intensified efforts to retain official party recognition along with the election symbol. The two factions are now busy making strategies to wrest control of the party.

The Oli-led faction on Tuesday submitted an application to the Election Commission claiming that his party should get official recognition. Oli had added 556 new Central Committee members while submitting the application to the Election Commission.
On Monday, the Prachanda-led faction informed the Election Commission of the party's Standing Committee's decision to take action against chairperson Oli for breaching party discipline.
Oli has defended his move to abruptly dissolve Parliament, saying he was forced to seek a fresh mandate through elections as the rift within the ruling Nepal Communist Party severely affected his government's functioning.

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