KATHMANDU, Nepal – The Supreme Court of Nepal on Tuesday ruled that the country's parliament, which was dissolved by the country's prime minister in December, should reconvene, sending the Himalayan nation into another round of political instability.
Nepal's Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli dissolved parliament on December 20 after protracted internal disputes within his ruling Nepalese Communist Party, but the court concluded that he had exceeded his powers.
"The court calls the dissolution of the house an unconstitutional act," said court spokesman Bhadrakali Pokharel, adding that the legislature had to be restored within two weeks.
The decision means that Mr Oli is likely to face a vote of no confidence when lawmakers meet again.
Rajan Bhattarai, foreign affairs adviser to Mr Oli, said the prime minister would respect the court order. "He's not weighing an undemocratic move like imposing an emergency or anything else," he said.
Mr Oli dissolved parliament about two years before his five-year mandate expired to avert an expected vote of no confidence from rival leaders in his party.
Mr. Oli was elected to a second term as Prime Minister in 2017 by forming a majority in an alliance with former Maoist rebels and by pledging to tackle the endemic corruption ravaging the country and forge stronger ties with China.
Political turmoil in Nepal comes amid mounting tensions between China and India, two powerful neighbors whose rivalry has become increasingly tense. That's gotten worse now that China has exercised its claims to disputed land along their rugged Himalayan border.
During his tenure, Mr. Oli increasingly leaned towards China at the expense of India.
Mr. Oli has initiated several major development projects as part of Chinese efforts to develop trade and transit links in the region, essentially ending what had been an Indian monopoly in the country.
"Oli & # 39; s departure could be a matter of satisfaction for India," said Bipin Adhikari, former dean of Kathmandu University School of Law and constitutional expert. A "weak coalition government could support them more than Oli."
Mr Oli has lost his grip on the party and in parliament in recent days. The dissolution split the ruling party into two factions, with the group opposing Mr Oli and his decision to dissolve parliament led by a former Maoist rebel, Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
Legal experts and political activists gathered outside the Supreme Court in Kathmandu on Tuesday to celebrate the decision. Mr Oli's decision to dissolve parliament was widely condemned by many in his own party and in the opposition.
A senior leader of the Nepalese Communist Party, Raghuji Pant, called on Mr. Oli to resign.
"On moral grounds, the prime minister must resign immediately," said Mr Pant. “Our party can remain intact if the prime minister agrees to support another leader as prime minister. If not, a new power equation is inevitable. "