05/02/2017, 18.56
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Impeachment motion against chief justice threatens local elections

by Christopher Sharma

About 249 MPs out of 593 signed the motion. Government loses coalition partners. Move casts doubt on local elections set for 14 May.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepali Congress (NCI) and Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-Maoist Centre) lawmakers sponsored a motion to impeach Chief Justice Sushila Karki.

For some analysts, this creates uncertainties about upcoming local elections on 14 May, which have already sparked divisions between ruling parties and those that support the Madhesi and Tharu minorities.

Over the past few weeks, the local Catholic Church had expressed itself in favour of peaceful elections.

CPN MP Min Bahadur Bishwokarma and CPN-MC chief whip Tek Bahadur Basnet were among the 249 MPs (out of 593) who backed the motion.

Reacting to the move, Home Affairs Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Bimlendra Nidhi tendered his resignation, whilst Kamal Thapa, another deputy prime minister and leader of the Hindu royalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) also pulled out of the government.

According to the constitution, an impeachment motion can be tabled in parliament with the support of at least a quarter of all legislators, and requires two thirds to pass. Karki is accused of interfering with executive orders and biased rulings.

Attorney General General Raman Shrestha said that Karki's impeachment is necessary because she has interfered with the appointment of a new chief of police.

“We decided [to act] after she ignored our request that she stop interfering with executive prerogatives,” said Mr Bishwakarma. “We are not doing this to undermine local elections.”

For Bhim Bahadur Rawal, leader of the main opposition party, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist), "This is a biased and dictatorial move. We are opposed to this motion that interferes with the judiciary."

According to Ramp Kamal Thapa, the motion is "an attack on the independent judiciary”. For him, "This decision was taken without consulting us".

"We are one of the main coalition partners,” he added, “but the government acted without our support and for that reason it would not be ethical to remain part of it. So today we have decided to withdraw from the government."

Writer and analyst Keshaw Presad noted that "the demands from Terai-based party have yet to be addressed. The Home Affairs minister responsible for security has resigned. Part of the coalition quit, and this makes local election on 14 May uncertain. This will prolong Nepal's transition and instability.”

If local elections do take place, they will be the first in 19 years. Meanwhile, Karki was suspended from her post with immediate effect.

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