Nepal Prime Minister Oli loses a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives. 

Nepal Prime Minister Oli KP Sharma

Nepal Prime Minister Oli KP Sharma

On Monday, Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli lost a trust vote in the House of Representatives, the speaker said, pitching the country into political turmoil at a time when it is battling a major second wave of coronavirus infections. In a fresh setback to the embattled premier seeking to tighten his grip on power after the CPN (Maoist Centre) led by Pushpakamal Dahal "Prachanda" withdrew support to his government. Oli's moderate communist party split from former Maoist rebels in March after differences cropped up over its power-sharing deal, wiping out their governing majority.

Prime Minister Oli secured 93 votes in the Lower House of parliament during a special session convened on the directives of President Bidya Devi Bhandari. Oli, 69, required at least 136 votes in the 275-member House of Representatives to win the confidence motion as four members are currently under suspension. A total of 124 members voted against him. ]

Political parties will now try to cobble together a new ruling coalition. Parliament speaker Agni Sapkota said that of 232 lawmakers present, 93 voted in favour of Oli while 124 were against him and 15 did not vote. "The confidence vote sought by Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has been rejected," Sapkota said at the end of the counting of ballots. The head of the main Maoist group, who goes by his nom de guerre of Prachanda, accused the 69-year-old premier of sidelining party leaders, ignoring collective decision-making and undermining the role of parliament. "He has created instability and is behind the crisis the country is facing now," Prachanda said. "He does not have the confidence of parliament any more."

Oli has been criticized by opponents and on social media for playing down the risk of the pandemic and asking citizens to "wash the virus down" the throat by drinking a solution of hot water, guava leaves and turmeric powder. Oli told parliament the government was focused on fighting the pandemic and had prepared more hospitals, ICU beds, ventilators and testing facilities to tackle COVID-19. "The country needs dialogue, consensus, unity and understanding among political parties to fight against COVID-19 and for the economic development and prosperity of the country," he said.

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