The top Chinese Communist Party leader speaks with Premier Oli and President Bhandari as the ruling Communist Party on the verge of a split.
A Chinese delegation reportedly held talks with Nepalese Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli and President Bidya Devi Bhandari in Kathmandu on Sunday in a first diplomatic step by the neighboring power after the Prime Minister dissolved Parliament a week ago.
The four-member delegation led by Guo Yezhou, a vice minister of the Communist Party of China international department, arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday to assess the political situation following the split in the ruling Communist Party of Nepal (NCP).
China has poured millions of dollars into Nepal in recent years in aid and infrastructure investment by integrating the country into President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative.
In recent years, many Nepalese Communist leaders have traveled to China for “training programs” amid growing engagements between the NCP and the Chinese Communist Party.
Sandwiched between China and India, politics in Nepal is also influenced by the priorities of its giant neighbors. India has pushed back Beijing’s growing influence in a country New Delhi sees as its own backyard.
Prime Minister Oli decided to dissolve the country’s parliament last Sunday and called for parliamentary elections more than a year ahead of schedule following a power struggle within the NCP. He had led an alliance with former Maoist rebels until a landslide victory in 2017.
The move sparked deep political unrest and street protests in the Himalayan nation as it battled the COVID-19 pandemic and left the ruling party on the verge of a split.
“I think the Chinese have come to assess the overall situation after the dissolution of parliament and the near dissolution of the Nepalese Communist Party,” said Narayan Khadka, a senior leader of the opposition Nepalese Congress party.
The Chinese Embassy in Nepal was not immediately available for comment.
Violation of the constitution
Earlier, Bishnu Rijal, a member of the NCP central committee, said the Chinese official was to meet with Oli and his opponents.
Oli said internal wrangling and his party’s lack of cooperation crippled decision-making, forcing him to seek a popular new term, but opponents say he rushed with the decision before exhausting all options.
On Friday, hundreds of protesters, including three former prime ministers, sat on a road near Oli’s office against his sudden decision. They say that Oli did not have the power to dissolve parliament and that he violated the constitution.
“We will organize stronger protests against this dissolution by a prime minister without restraint,” said Pushpa Kamal Dahal or Prachanda, a former prime minister.
Oli rejected their demands and pledged to continue next year’s parliamentary elections on April 30 and May 10.
The prime minister has lost support within his ruling party this year, with some senior officials accusing him of sidelining them in decision-making and key appointments, and asking him to step down.
Nepal’s 2015 charter does not give the prime minister the prerogative to dissolve parliament without exhausting alternatives, constitutional expert Bipin Adhikari said.
“It is unconstitutional at first glance,” he said.
The Supreme Court is hearing more than a dozen petitions challenging the dissolution of parliament and the calling of early elections. He gave the government until Jan. 3 to motivate the dissolution, Supreme Court spokesman Bhadrakali Pokharel said.