Nepal Tries To Form A New Government As Its Covid-19 Crisis Deepens


Nepal has been thrown into political turmoil after the country's Prime Minister was forced to step down following public anger over his response to a deadly second wave of Covid-19.

K. P. Sharma Oli -- who touted unproven coronavirus remedies and attended crowded events even as cases rose -- was removed from his position after losing a vote of confidence on Monday.

Just a month ago, the Himalayan nation of 31 million people was reporting about 100 Covid-19 cases a day. On Tuesday, it reported 9,483 new cases and 225 virus-related fatalities, according to its health ministry -- the highest single-day death toll since the pandemic began.

Some have linked the country's second wave to the outbreak in neighboring India, which began in mid-March. The two countries share a long, open land border that people easily travel back and forth across.

Scenes in India, of funeral pyres and people queuing outside hospitals, are being replicated in Nepal, where hospitals are running out of oxygen and turning away patients.

A worker cremates Covid-19 victims at Pashupatinath Temple crematorium in Kathmandu on May 9.

Critics say public complacency and government inaction likely worsened Nepal's coronavirus outbreak. While it might not have been possible to prevent a second wave, experts say the government could have done more to control it.

As the crisis developed, the government's key coalition partner, the Maoist Centre, withdrew its backing, prompting Oli to seek a parliamentary vote to prove he had enough support to remain in power.

Oli needed at least 136 votes in the 275-member House of Representatives to ensure a majority and save his government. But he only received 93 votes -- 124 members voted against him.

Given Oli's failure to secure a vote of confidence, Nepal's President and ceremonial head of state Bidhya Devi Bhandari will now put out a call to form a new government.