In a shocking turn of events at the political front, all seven Nepal provinces’ governors were dismissed from their posts with effect November 03, 2019.
According to a press release issued by the Office of the President, Bidya Devi Bhandari removed the governors in line with Article 165 (1) (b) of the Nepal Constitution.
A decision taken by the cabinet meeting on Sunday directed the President to sack all seven governors:
They had ascended the posts during the Nepali Congress’ reign of Sher Bahadur Deuba in January 2017.
Oli’s Press Advisor Kundan Aryal said that the governors were removed because the Nepali Congress had appointed them irrationally.
“The government just corrected an unethical decision made by the outgoing [Deuba] government, as the appointments were made after the election results were out,” said Aryal without explaining why the government took the decision so abruptly.
According to the Energy Minister Barsha Man Pun, the incumbent NCP government had been planning to make the move for a long time now. “Governors must represent the government,” added Pun.
The main opposition Nepali Congress Party called out the Oli-led government’s decision, stating it was ’biased’.
“The Cabinet never took into account the performance of the governors. At a time when the ruling party is supposed to move ahead in coordination with the opposition, the government has invited conflict by not consulting with the primary opposition while taking such a big decision,” said Bishwo Prakash Sharma, Nepali Congress Spokesperson.
Speaking about his dismissal, Gandaki Province Governor Kunwar said that he personally felt relieved and since he was a lawyer, he would continue practicing law. However, he was unhappy with the government’s decision and said it was the ‘height of anarchy’.
Nepali Congress Vice-President Bimalendra Nidhi opined that the government’s decision to remove all the governors violated both, the constitutional provisions and the election code of conduct.
“As per the spirit of the constitution, the government must give these governors a chance to be heard before deciding to remove them from office,” said Nidhi.
“This decision is an attack on the constitutional provisions and rule of law and it is also against federalism. A governor’s post cannot remain vacant even for a minute. The government arbitrarily removed us without giving us any chance to be heard,” he added.
Senior Advocate Radheshyam Adhikari said that the government’s decision was not constitutionally based.
“Governors have five years fixed term, but if the government decides to remove them before their term ends, then the government must level charge against them and if the government accuses them of wrongdoing, then it must give them a chance to be heard,” said Adhikari.
According to Senior Advocate Surendra Kumar Mahto, the government could justify its move to remove Governors, if it had removed them immediately after the induction of the Oli-led NCP Government.
“The former CPN-UML and the CPN-MC had told the Deuba-led government to appoint new governors only with their consent. When Deuba was preparing to appoint these governors, some UML leaders had even threatened to remove the new governors, but they did not remove them immediately after coming to power,” added Mahto.
According to Article 165 (1) (b), the Office of Governor shall become vacant if his or her term of office expires and he or she is removed from office by the President prior to [the] expiration of the term.
Furthermore, Article 165 (2) of the constitution states that if the office of the Chief of State [governor] of any State falls vacant, the President may so designate the Chief of State of another State to act as such also for such State.
“This means that the constitution does not imagine the offices of all governors going vacant at the same time, creating a vacuum. This decision shows a gross monopoly and misuse of power on the part of the government,” said Bhimarjun Acharya, an expert on constitutional affairs.
In the most recent update on the dismissal of all Province Governors, the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has recommended the names of the new Governors for all seven provinces.
The names were announced in the NCP secretariat meeting held on November 04, 2019.
A meeting of the council of ministers will nominate the representatives for each province.
Speaking about the Oli government’s decision to sack former governors and replace them, the Nepal Election Commission explains that the government’s decision didn’t violate the code of conduct that came into effect from November 30, 2019.
Addressing a press meet on November 06, 2019, Election Commissioner Ishwari Prasad Paudel said that the code did not mention anything about the change of governors at any point.
“Rather, it can be considered a moral question at the government. The commission also takes it seriously,” he stated.