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Editorial: Oli’s olive branch

Editorial: Oli’s olive branch

The CPN-UML Standing Committee’s June 30 decision to revive the party’s central committee that existed before the 16 May 2018 merger with CPN (Maoist Center) is a welcome step. ApEx has always advocated for intra-party cohesion in Nepal’s main democratic forces, and if the two factions of the UML could someone reunite, it would be wonderful news. Nepali polity is best served by having two or three strong political forces that fight along ideological lines; purely personal ambition-driven politics has done much to corrupt Nepali politics over the years. 

Yet the June 30 decision may not be enough to interest disgruntled senior UML leaders like Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khala who are not ready to trust Prime Minister and UML Chairman KP Oli easily again. They think this is just another ploy of PM Oli to prolong his tenure. If the Supreme Court rules in Oli’s favor again, they think he will not think twice about ditching them again. 

Hence the onus is on Oli to prove he is ready to accommodate the concerns of the rival faction. Chief among these is their old gripe that Oli seldom consults them on important matters, for instance in his decision to bring in a faction of the JSPN into the federal government or in his appointment in vital constitutional organs. They would also like to see Oli share more power with them, both in the party as well as in the government. 

Again, going into the next elections, ideally, Nepal should have no more than three or four main political actors who are vigorously competing for votes. Having such strong actors will help consolidate the main agendas and prevent the country from slipping back into the kind of dirty horse-trading that characterized the post-1990 national politics. In fact, the new constitution has specific provisions to protect against such an outcome. But constitutional provisions are only as good as those implementing them. We hope the prime minister has this time acted in good faith and he is serious about consolidating his party and thereby the national polity.