A screenshot of the video of former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli addressing Parliament on Jan 10

Top leaders from all major political parties spoke in Parliament just before the newly elected Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal sought a vote of confidence on January 10, 2023.

During the deliberations, KP Sharma Oli, former prime minister and current chairman of the Communist Party Nepal-UML, defended his move to dissolve parliament twice (in December and May 2021) after Sher Bahadur Deuba, his successor and the president of the Nepali Congress, criticized his move. Oli, who addressed the meeting right after Deuba, made the following remarks.

Parliament was first established [in Nepal] in 1959. It was King Mahendra who dissolved Parliament in 1960. That is not something I did. In 1991, the country went to polls. The Nepali Congress dissolved Parliament and forced the country to hold midterm elections. It wasn’t me. Sir, [do you remember] what you did? How many times has Parliament been dissolved and what else happened? Wasn’t it the decision of Honourable Sher Bahadur Deuba to dissolve Parliament in June 2001 that culminated in (the events of) October 3 [2002] and February 1 [2005]? I have a question for my friend: Didn’t you dissolve Parliament? In fact, I had supported you even when all other political parties protested against your decision. If the elections could be held, I thought it would be a good move. I argued it was the right move if you could hold the elections. We should not interpret things in politics to suit our current situation

KP Sharma oli

Please follow this link for statements made by top leaders of all political parties in parliament ahead of Prime Minister Dahal’s vote of confidence motion.

While defending his move, which the Supreme Court termed unconstitutional, Oli claimed the dissolution of Parliament was similar to that of Deuba.

Nepal Check fact-checked Oli’s claim by examining the political context in which Oli and Deuba had decided to dissolve Parliament. This fact-check is based on an analysis of Nepal’s constitutional provisions as well as the Supreme Court decisions.

Political context of Deuba’s dissolution of Parliament

Sher Bahadur Deuba was appointed Nepal’s Prime Minister on July 26, 2001 following the resignation of the then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala amid a political crisis. Deuba, Koirala’s successor, faced harsh criticism after forming a 41-member cabinet. Deuba had recommended to King Gyanendra Shah that Parliament be dissolved on May 22, 2002 to contain his rival faction within the party and split it amid growing intra-party tensions. (In his speech, Oli stated that Prime Minister Deuba dissolved parliament in June 2002, but it was actually dissolved in July 2002). Deuba even announced mid-term elections within six months of the dissolution.

However, the elections could not be held on time, costing democracy and pushing the country backward. Oli was correct in referring to the dissolution of Parliament. Oli referred to the sacking of Deuba and the bloodless coup against the Deuba government on those two dates (October 3, 2002 and February 1, 2005).

When Deuba proposed dissolving Parliament, a state of emergency was declared to combat the Maoist insurgency. On December 7, 2001, the House of Representatives (HoR) declared a state of emergency for six months, until May 24, 2002. However, intra-party strife peaked when rival factions within the Nepali Congress (NC) opposed extending the state of emergency beyond May 24, 2002.

On May 23, 2002, the government called the 22nd Parliament Session. However, when the NC concluded that there was no need to extend the state of emergency any further, the intra-party conflict reached a climax. The NC rival faction had a majority in the party.

The NC meeting a day before the Parliament Session even directed Prime Minister Deuba to withdraw the agenda registered at the Parliament Secretariat to further extend the state of emergency. In an apparent attempt to exact vengeance on a rival faction within the party, Prime Minister Deuba recommended to King Gyanendra that the parliament elected in 1999 be dissolved on the same day. He extended the state of emergency through an ordinance on May 27, 2002. He also split the NC and became president of the newly-formed Nepali Congress (Democratic).

Let us examine the timeline to better understand the political events that led to the Parliament dissolution:

  • December 7, 2001: State of emergency is enforced

  • May 22, 2002: Parliament is dissolved on Prime Minister Deuba’s recommendation

  • May 22, 2002: NC directs Prime Minister Deuba to withdraw the proposal to extend state of emergency

  • May 23, 2002: New session of Parliament

  • May 24, 2002: End of state of emergency

  • May 27, 2002: Prime Minister Deuba decides extends the term of the state of emergency for another six months

Deuba’s move to dissolve Parliament was challenged at the Supreme Court. Two months later, the top court issued an order approving the dissolution. The SC verdict said it did not have the authority to intervene in political decisions.

Constitutional provisions on parliament dissolution

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, 1990 was in force when Prime Minister Deuba dissolved Parliament. Article 53 of the constitution granted the prime minister the authority to dissolve Parliament. According to Article 53(4):

“His Majesty may dissolve the House of Representatives on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

His Majesty shall, when dissolving the House of Representatives, specify a date, to be within six months, for new elections to the House of Representatives.”

In the context of the 1990 constitutional provision, Prime Minister Deuba’s decision to dissolve Parliament is in compliance with the constitutional provision. This is further supported by the endorsement of the Supreme Court, which deemed the move to be in line with the constitutional provision

Political context of Oli’s parliament dissolution

Prime Minister Oli dissolved Parliament in response to mounting tension within the Nepal Communist Party (NCP). News outlets had reported that an informal agreement between NCP Chairman K P Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ to alternate the role of the prime minister for a two-and-a-half-year term during the five-year government was not being upheld. Furthermore, reports suggested that a faction led by Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal, a senior leader of the NCP, had planned to bring a vote of no confidence against Oli in Parliament, citing his alleged failure to collaborate and govern.

When Prime Minister Oli learned that the Dahal-Nepal faction was planning to introduce the no-confidence motion, he dissolved it for the first time on December 20, 2020. Following Oli’s decision to dissolve Parliament, the NCP’s intra-party conflict reached a boiling point. The Dahal-Nepal and Oli factions decided to expel each other from the party, even stripping them of the party’s general membership.

The Dahal-Nepal faction took to the street against Oli. A writ was filed at the Supreme Court against Parliament dissolution. A Constitutional Bench headed by the then Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana declared the Parliament dissolution unconstitutional and reinstated it on February 23, 2021. As per the Supreme Court verdict, President Bhandari summoned the house session of the reinstated Parliament on March 7, 2021.

On the same day, the Supreme Court ruled that the merger between the CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Center) that had led to the formation of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) was illegal. In response to a writ, the apex court challenged the Election Commission’s decision to award the NCP to the UML and the Maoist Center. It effectively moved both parties to the pre-merger stage.

Following the court order to split the NCP, Prime Minister Oli attempted to secure a vote of confidence in Parliament. However, because 28 lawmakers from the Nepal-led faction of the UML did not vote, the Oli-led government was reduced to a minority. Oli had won the support of the Janata Samajbadi Party’s Mahantha Thakur and Rajendra Mahato factions to dissolve Parliament and hold fresh elections.

On May 20, 2021, the President’s Office issued a notice stating that the KP Oli-led government had paved way for the formation of an alternative government in accordance with Article 76 (5) of the Constitution, as there were no convincing grounds for Oli to secure a majority vote to form the new government. The following day, NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba submitted signatures of 149 lawmakers, including Maoist Center and Nepal-led UML lawmakers, to prove he had majority support for prime ministerial position. On the same day, Prime Minister Oli declared his candidacy for the position, accompanied by the signatures of all UML lawmakers, including those from the Nepal-led faction and the Thakur and Mahato-led factions.

Both claims were rejected, according to the President’s office. Prime Minister Oli then recommended to President Bhandari that Parliament be dissolved on the same day. President Bhandari endorsed the recommendation past midnight.

Constitutional provisions on parliament dissolution

Article 85 of Nepal’s Constitution states that the term of the House of Representatives is five years. “Term of House of Representatives: (1) Unless dissolved earlier in accordance with this Constitution, the term of the House of Representatives shall be five years,” as per Article 85(1) of the Constitution.

Similarly, Article 76(7) has a provision for cabinet formation as follows:

In cases where the Prime Minister appointed pursuant to clause (5) fails to secure a vote of confidence or the Prime Minister cannot be appointed, the President shall, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, dissolve the House of Representatives and appoint a date of election so that the election to another House of Representatives is completed within six months.

The Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court reinstated Parliament after hearing on the writ petition filed against the move of Prime Minister Oli to dissolve Parliament. “The decision and all the actions taken then after do not seem to be in line with the Article 76 (5), 76(7) and the entire norms, constitutional morality and democratic values,” states the apex court’s verdict that overturned Oli’s dissolution of Parliament.

A screenshot of Article 85 of the 2015 constitution with provisions of parliament dissolution


Although the two House dissolutions that occurred 18 years apart appear similar on the surface, they had their nuances and different political contexts. A detailed explanation of the constitutional provisions help understand the differences.

Both Deuba and Oli dissolved Parliament after becoming increasingly estranged within their respective parties due to intra-party squabbles. While the 1990 Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal gave the Prime Minister unchecked powers to dissolve Parliament, the 2015 Constitution of Nepal does not give the Prime Minister such powers. This is why the court backed Deuba’s decision to dissolve Parliament; in Oli’s case, the top court invalidated the dissolution and reinstated it. Despite this, Oli implied during his speech in Parliament on January 10, 2023, that Deuba’s and his parliament dissolutions were based on the same constitutional grounds; but that is not the case. Therefore, Nepal Check concludes that Oli’s claim lacks context.

ClaimClaimed byNepal Check
Both Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s 2002 House dissolution and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s dissolution two years ago were similar.Former Prime Minister and CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma OliMissing context
Nepal Check verdict after fact-checking the statement made by former prime minister Oli on parliament dissolution.