What should be the role of the new president?

Pratik Ghimire

Pratik Ghimire

What should be the role of the new president?

Veteran Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel has been elected as the new president of Nepal. He is the third elected head of state after Nepal abolished monarchy and became a republic in 2008. Poudel succeeds Bidya Devi Bhadari who served two terms after Dr Ram Baran Yadav, the first president. Although the post of the president is ceremonial in nature, the past two presidents have courted controversies for acting in favor of their political parties, instead of being a nonpartisan head of state and protector of the constitution. In this context, Pratik Ghimire of ApEx talked to some experts and politicians to solicit their views on what role the new president should play. 

Binoj Basnyat, Security analyst

With the indications of current political turmoil and desperations of parties over the presidential post, it has been proved how important this post is despite being a ceremonial one. The President should safeguard national interest and unity. The predecessors, being active members of political parties, took controversial steps. This time, too, we have a senior political leader as President. To avoid controversies, he should stay away from party politics. As the supreme commander-in-chief of Nepal Army, the President has a role to play during national crises. He should also play a role to strengthen our diplomacy, and advise the government to revive our failing economy.

Bipin Adhikari, Constitutional expert

Our constitution has mandated dozens of works and responsibilities to the President. The new President should fulfill his constitutional roles while following the protocols. As the roles of Prime Minister and President are interrelated, they should complement each other. The President has no power to go against the government but in case of a minority government, he can use his conscience to guide the country. Even when the government issues ordinances, the President should have the gumption to suggest the PM to wait for the parliamentary session and follow due process. If the president truly abides by the Constitution, he can do no wrong. In case of a difference of opinions on matters of national interest between the President and the PM, it should be made public to facilitate a healthy debate. 

Gopal Khanal, Politician, CPN-UML

As the President is the custodian of the Constitution and the guardian of the nation, he should always work for the greater good of the people. Sometimes the executive tries to misuse power, the President should prevent such a situation. The head of state should maintain the check and balance of powers. In Nepal, President has no executive powers, but that doesn’t mean the former should act like a rubber stamp in service of the PM. I have mixed feelings regarding past Presidents and their tenures. They came through political struggles and deserved the post more than anyone else, yet, political parties dragged them to controversies. The new President should always analyze what the political parties expect from him, while upholding national interest, unity and integrity.

Shankar Tiwari, Analyst 

The new President should avoid controversies and also correct the presidential course. He should work within the constitutional framework. The PM and the President should meet at least once a week to discuss national and geopolitical affairs; there should not be any communication gap between them. Lastly, the motorcade of the president must not hamper the public. The new president should think of other alternatives.

Bishnu Dahal, Political analyst

As both presidential candidates had served as the speaker of the House, they know how to be above their political parties and how to act in accordance with the Constitution. As for Ram Chandra Paudel, he has a democratic background, and as a senior leader of Nepali Congress, he knows how to follow democratic rules. So, I think, he will disassociate himself from the party and follow the Constitution. He must help the government to make Nepal a sound nation geopolitically. The outgoing president has left behind a series of controversial decisions for the new one to learn from.

Bishnu Bhattarai, Senior advocate

The President should promote national unity. The political parties could not arrive at a consensus on the head of the state. This means the President will be a partisan figure and such a figure cannot be the symbol of national unity. No elected political figure shall ever hold the presidency because s/he will always be a divisive figure. 

Ananta Raj Luitel, Constitutional law expert 

According to the Constitution of Nepal, the President is a nominal head of the state. He/She cannot take any discretionary decision but needs to act on the basis of the recommendation of the Council of Ministers, the Constitutional Council and the Judicial Council or other relevant recommending authority. The President should stay within these bounds.  

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