Nepal top judge ignores court, agrees to be PM

Regmi

In a move fraught with deep constitutional and political ramifications, Nepal's Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi agreed to become prime minister Monday, only a day after the supreme court had ruled that the matter involved a question of separation of powers, and would be heard by a full bench on March 7.

Regmi responded "positively" after top leaders of four big parties met him Monday. The registrar of the court then issued a statement "on behalf of the SC", saying the chief justice was "ready to head the election government".

Assistant spokesperson of the court Hemanta Rawal said that the chief justice had taken a "positive view" not for personal ambition, but to help end the political and constitutional crisis.

"The Supreme Court believes that discussion on the formation of the chief justice-led government is as per his respect to human rights, commitment for the free judiciary, his contributions in the field of justice for the past forty years and respect to the judiciary," the statement said.

But at least three sitting judges described Regmi's decision as a "betrayal and compromise by the CJ for power". The Nepal Bar Association, enraged at Regmi's refusal to heed its warning to him to not take up the executive post while he was still CJ, held an emergency meeting, and was considering organising a protest when Regmi entered the court.

Nepal's interim constitution bars judges, including the CJ, from assuming any role which is not of a judicial nature without the prior consent and approval of the judicial council, something Regmi has not done.

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