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Indra Dhoj Kshetri


Koirala: The first President of Nepal

gp.jpgThe interim Constitution has established Prime Minister as a powerful president; not in words but in action.

After Girija Prasad Koirala was appointed Prime Minister in April last year, many people raised doubts that he had some give and take with the Palace. His post movement activities and speeches supported this doubt that he was willing to uphold the …

Monarchy, be it in ceremonial form. Meanwhile, he played a crucial role on bringing the Maoists into the mainstream and upholding the seven party unity. In those nine months eight parties (including Maoists, as they have given up arms and participated in the interim legislature) have come a long way. The state and the Maoists have formally ended war and the eight parties have promulgated interim constitution. In contrary to the above mentioned doubts regarding Koirala’s instance on Monarchy, the situation has dramatically changed and established Koirala as a President, not in words but in action.

The interim Constitution is dumb regarding Head of State. However, it has given all traditional rights and privileges of the Monarch in the country to the Prime Minister. For example, the Prime Minister administered the oath of office and secrecy to the Chief Justice at the Supreme Court. Prime Minister shall have the right to appoint and certify the Nepalese ambassadors in foreign countries and receive the certificates of the Ambassadors at the foreign diplomatic missions in Nepal. Hence, Nepal’s condition now is that as Koirala is an ordinary citizen Nepal, has presidential system but still the King exists. The interim constitution has not given any rights and privileges to the King. More importantly it has outright denied the role of the King.

Prime Minister administers the oath of Office and Secrecy to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
It’s appropriate here to analyze some constitutional provisions that support his role as a president of the country.

Article 37 (1) of the interim constitution provides that the Executive Right of the state of Nepal shall rest on the Council of Ministers. And as the head of the Council, the Prime Minister shall exercise those rights. More importantly, unlike in previous constitution that the Prime Minister could be removed simply by the ordinary majority of the parliament, the interim constitution doesn’t have any provisions to remove the Prime Minister from his post. Hence, the constitution has established the Prime Minister as powerful chief executive. He is even more powerful than the US president. The US president can be impeached by the Congress.

Other privilege that the Head of the state exercised is summoning and prorogation of the session of the Legislature. According to the interim Constitution, the Prime Minister shall exercise this right as well. The Prime Minister himself shall address the first meeting of the session and present the government programs before the House. This privilege was given to the King in previous constitution. The King used to address the first session and present the policies and programs of the government before the House. In return, the House had to pass a vote thanks to the King. It is reasonable to note here that, failing to pass the vote of thanks motion, Koirala himself had to resign and declare the midterm polls in 1994.

The right of Pardons is the other privilege that the head of the states exercised. This privilege shall also be exercised by the Council of Ministers as per the interim constitution. Unlike in the past, the titles, honors or decorations are also to be conferred by the Prime Minister. The title of ceremonial chief of the National army has also been drawn from the King and given to none. However, as the King will not be present on either occasion, the Prime Minister will observe the salutes as the Head of the State.
Let’s observe what the Constitution mentions about the King. Article mentions that none the state rights shall rest upon King. Immediately, 149 (2) mentions that the Prime Minister will do all the state functions. And Sub article (3) mentions that the future of the Monarchy will be determined by the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly.

Thus this constitution adopts such political system where, despite the existence of King (not Monarchy), the Prime Minister is the head of the state. Doubtless to say, an ordinary citizen as the head of the state can be no other than a president. The time will show whether Koirala really wants to oust the Monarchy from the nation. However, he has been exercising the privileges of the Head of state as in Presidential system.

Click here to read the Full Text of the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2063