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Nepali PM dismisses all-party mechanism, hints at lockdown extension

Nepali PM dismisses all-party mechanism, hints at lockdown extension

Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has dismissed the demand for an all-party political mechanism to deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In a video-conference with chief ministers of seven provinces on Saturday, April 11, the prime minister ruled out such a mechanism as a separate entity from the government. The PM’s message came when his Nepal Communist Party co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been asking for such a mechanism to discuss and decide on vital corona-related measures.

Some fringe parties are also demanding such a mechanism, even as the main opposition Nepali Congress is divided on it.

“The government is carrying out its duties effectively. There is no need for another mechanism to direct it,” Oli said. Oli and his supporters see Dahal’s demand as a ploy to weaken the government. But Dahal’s supporters counter that at a time of crisis like this, inter- and intra-party consultations are vital, and something that Oli is allegedly avoiding.

In a separate context, PM Oli hinted at the extension of the lockdown beyond April 15. Next-door India, which is witnessing a rapid surge in number of Covid-19 patients, is preparing to extend the lockdown.

PM Oli told chief ministers that it would be unwise to lift the lockdown when the number of cases in India is going up. The PM also told the chiefs ministers to work towards restricting movements along Nepal-India border.