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Nepal's top court orders reinstatement of parliament

Judges say prime minister's move is unconstitutional

KATHMANDU (Reuters) -- Nepal's top court on Tuesday ordered the reinstatement of the nation's parliament, a court official said, dealing a political blow to beleaguered Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli.

The court order comes two months after Oli plunged the Himalayan nation into political turmoil when he dissolved parliament and called for an early election due to bitter squabbling within the ruling Communist party.

"The recommendation for the dissolution of the House of Representatives and the notice dissolving Parliament have been rejected by the honourable judges," Bhadrakali Pokharel, a court official, told Reuters.

Nepal has been in political turmoil since December last year when Oli, who turned 69 on Tuesday, made a sudden decision to dissolve parliament and called for elections 18 months ahead of schedule amid the coronavirus pandemic that has hit the tourism-dependent economy hard.

Judges heard more than a dozen petitions challenging Oli's move as unconstitutional and seeking the reinstatement of the house, which had two years to run when it was dissolved.

Oli had defended his move, saying his rivals in the ruling Nepal Communist Party had not cooperated with the government in the appointment of officials to panels such as the national human rights and anti-corruption commissions, and in other policy decisions.

But judges rejected this and ordered that parliament be convened within 13 days.

"The House of Representatives is reinstated as it is able and competent to perform its work," the court said.

The verdict means Oli, who was elected in 2018 following his party's landslide win in an election in 2017, faces a no confidence vote.

About 100 slogan-shouting activists, their faces smeared in vermillion, lit candles on the street in the heart of Kathmandu to celebrate the verdict and urged Oli to quit.

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