Nepal army chief row: Ball now in president’s court

May 3rd, 2009 - 5:22 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 3 (IANS) Though Nepal’s ruling Maoist party Sunday unilaterally took a decision to remove controversial army chief Gen Rookmangud Katawal, the ball is now in the court of President Ram Baran Yadav, who could make or break the former guerrillas.

“The president can stall the implementation of the cabinet decision,” said legal journalist and author Ananta Luitel. “He can either ask the Supreme Court for advice or send the cabinet order to the interim parliament for its decision.”

If the president sends the dismissal order to parliament, it would be put to vote.

Since the Maoist decision to fire the army chief Sunday was not endorsed even by any of its four coalition partners let alone the other parties, the motion is likely to be defeated in parliament.

Though the Maoists have been threatening to remove the president if he opposes the army chief’s dismissal, Luitel said that would be impossible legally.

“The president can be removed only if he is impeached by two-thirds of the parliament members,” he said. “The Maoists can’t sack him on their own.”

During the Maoists’ nearly two-month war on the army chief, the president had been repeatedly asking the former guerrillas to go by consensus.

Soon after the Maoists decided to fire Katawal, two major opposition parties, the Nepali Congress (NC) and Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party, met Yadav, asking him to stay the controversial decision.

The president’s reaction is expected to come after an emergency meeting called by the NC concludes.

Except the Maoists, the other 24 parliamentary parties are taking part in the meet that will also discuss the possibility of an alternative government.

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