President Bidya Devi Bhandari (centre) attends a meeting. File photo
Nepal's President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved parliament on Saturday and announced fresh elections in November.
The Himalayan country battled political turmoil alongside the coronavirus pandemic as the prime minister, who was heading a minority government and was unlikely to secure a vote of confidence in the chamber, recommended the move.
President Bhandari made the order after declaring that neither Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli nor Sher Bahadur Deuba, leader of the opposition Nepali Congress, had a majority to form a new government, according to AFP.
Nepal has been grappling with a political crisis at the same time it's struggling with a coronavirus surge and record numbers of daily infections and deaths, amid acute shortages of hospital beds, medication and oxygen.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli speaks to the rally. File photo
Last year, Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli dissolved Parliament on his own due to feuds within his ruling Nepal Communist Party. However, several petitions were filed at the Supreme Court and the judges ordered Parliament to be reinstated.
The latest decision also is likely to be challenged in court and a decision could take weeks.
Political rivalries between the communist prime minister and his former Maoist allies hit a new peak as the country battles a severe coronavirus wave with acute shortages of oxygen and vaccines.
Authorities have been reporting about 200 deaths a day, but experts say there are a lot more and the United Nations has launched an emergency Covid-19 appeal saying that Nepal is at "breaking point".
Bhandari dissolved parliament in the early hours of Saturday after a new breakdown in talks.
"The president... has dissolved the current House of Representatives and fixed the first phase of general elections on November 12 and the second phase on November 19," his office said in a statement.
It said the decision was made on the recommendation of the cabinet headed by caretaker Prime Minister Oli, whose December 2020 dissolution of parliament sparked weeks of protests and was reversed by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in February.
The opposition says Oli, who had lost a vote of confidence this month, has no legal authority to recommend the dissolution of the parliament.
Five opposition leaders said in a joint statement the prime minister had pushed the country into a serious problem at a time when people were suffering and dying due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"When the country should have united to battle the pandemic, the dissolution of the parliament has only added to the problems and sufferings of the people," the statement said.
Prakash Sharan Mahat, a senior leader of the opposition Nepali Congress party said they will launch a political and legal fight against the move.
Oli, 69, says fresh elections could end the political confusion of recent months. Elections could be held despite the pandemic, he told reporters on Friday.
Nepal is battling a deadly second wave of the pandemic and is reporting more than 8,000 new infections on average each day.On Friday, the country said it had recorded 497,052 infections and 6,024 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began, according to government data.
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