Diplomats curious who’ll be PresidentPMs come and go but the President stays for full five years and often plays political roles.
After the publication of the results of the November 20 elections, political parties are not only engaged in the formation of a new government, but are also considering possible candidates for the post of President. The ruling alliance is two seats shy of a majority (138) in the federal parliament and expected to form the new government with the support of fringe parties.
The Constitution of Nepal 2015 in Article 62 (2) has clearly mentioned that “the President shall perform his or her functions in accordance with this Constitution and the Federal law.”
But the experience of Nepal with its presidents, both current and past, is not quite in line. That is the reason the President’s position has become so coveted, with political parties fighting tooth and nail to get it.
As a matter of fact, not only the political parties, some members of the diplomatic community in Kathmandu have also shown an interest in the choice of President. Representatives of the diplomatic community who have been calling upon the leaders of major parties post elections are curious to know who the next President would be.
“As the President has a fixed five-year term, members of diplomatic communities have shown a keen interest in knowing who would replace the current President,” a close confidant of senior Congress leader Shekhar Koirala told the Post. “They say the President should be someone who understands the constitution, but does not experiment with it.”
A deputy general secretary of the CPN (Unified Socialist) echoed Koirala. He too says Kathmandu’s diplomatic community has this time shown an outsized interest in who would succeed Bidya Devi Bhandari.
“Foreign interest in Nepali politics is nothing new,” geopolitical affairs analyst Chandra Dev Bhatta told the Post. “It is possible that their interest is more now in the Head of the State who will remain in power for five years than in the prime minister who can really go at any time.”
“As the self-belief of our politicians is going down, that is the reason the external forces can exert control over our political leaders,” Rameshnath Pandey, a former foreign minister, told the Post.
“Nepal is caught up in a strategic conflict and the interests of major countries,” said Pandey. “In this situation, Nepal might face an unprecedented crisis.”
Ram Baran Yadav, who was the first President of Nepal after the political change of 2006, prevented then prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal from sacking Rookmangud Katawal, the army chief at the time in 2009. Yadav’s decision to reverse the sacking of the army chief was a serious breach of constitution as there was no constitutional provision to block the government decision. India was at the time reported to have played a part in the sacking’s reversal.
After this incident 13 years ago, current President Bidya Devi Bhandari, who replaced Yadav, stirred up a controversy by refusing to authenticate the citizenship bill, which was passed by both the houses of parliament, in a move widely criticised as a flagrant breach of the constitution.
President Bhandari was also accused of meddling in the internal affairs of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) in the interest of China. The former ambassador of China Hou Yanqi regularly met President Bhandari in 2021 when the NCP leaders were engulfed in internal strife.
As the Office of the President has over the years become more and more politically active, the interest of foreign actors is also increasing.