Ruling party Standing Committee put off yet againSecretariat to meet on Saturday to discuss dispute over power-sharing.
The Standing Committee meeting of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, which was due to take place on Friday, was deferred twice in the day before it was rescheduled for Sunday.
The two party chairs, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, decided to put off the meeting after they were unable to find a way to resolve the ongoing intra-party dispute, mainly on power-sharing.
The 11am meeting was first postponed to 3pm but as the two chairs could not find an agreement, they finally decided to reschedule the meeting at 3pm on Sunday.
The party is due to hold a meeting of its nine-member Secretariat on Saturday afternoon though.
“It seems that the two leaders [Oli and Dahal] are closing in on an understanding and they want to discuss things with the Secretariat,” said Haribol Gajurel, a Standing Committee member considered an ally of Dahal. “The issue will be presented before the Standing Committee if the Secretariat succeeds in sorting it out. Or else, it could be decided by the Central Committee [the most powerful body of the party].”
The decision to put off Friday’s meeting comes a day after three top leaders—Oli, Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal—agreed to present the outstanding issues of the party before the Standing Committee and to the Central Committee.
Prime Minister Oli has a shaky position in the Standing Committee, where 30 of the 44 members have been demanding that he step down both as the party chair and the prime minister.
But some party insiders close to Oli said the Dahal-Nepal faction is not confident with the Standing Committee, as some leaders have been stating publicly of late that Oli must not be forced to step down.
Leaders such as Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and Mani Thapa, both of them former Maoists, have been saying that forcing Oli out could affect the party’s unity.
Still, Dahal and Nepal enjoy an almost two-thirds majority in the party’s Central Committee, which could decide in their favour and oust Oli. So, the two leaders are pressing Oli to call off the Standing Committee meeting and convene the Central Committee instead.
The delay in the meetings could also be used by the Dahal-Nepal faction to provide Oli ample time to choose between the post of party chairman and the prime minister and resolve the dispute amicably, party sources say.
But the delay could also work in Oli’s favour, as he gets more time to make his move and his positions would remain secure for some time.
Subash Chandra Nembang, a Standing Committee member considered an ally of Prime Minister Oli, however, doubted that the 445-member Central Committee meeting could be convened at a time when convening the 44-member Standing Committee has been difficult.
“How can we manage to gather 445 people during this corona crisis when gatherings of more than 25 people have been prohibited?” he said.