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Presidency says neither caretaker prime minister nor opposition leader were able to demonstrate a majority to form a new government.

Nepal has plunged into fresh political turmoil as President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved parliament and fixed general elections in November amid a worsening COVID-19 outbreak.

Saturday’s surprise announcement comes after a presidential statement said neither the caretaker Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, nor opposition leader Sher Bahadur Deuba were able to demonstrate a majority to form a new government by the Friday deadline set by Bhandari.

“The president has dissolved the House of Representatives and ordered the first phase of general elections on November 12 and the second phase on November 19,” a presidential statement issued after midnight said.

Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari pays respect during the opening ceremony of a traveling exhibition on Lumbini, Nepal in Yangon, Myanmar on October 19, 2019 [Thein Zaw/ AP]

It said the decision was made on the recommendation of the cabinet headed by caretaker Prime Minister Oli, whose December 2020 dissolution of parliament sparked weeks of protests and was reversed by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in February.

There was no immediate comment from political parties about the latest move.

Nepal is battling a deadly second wave of the pandemic and is reporting 8,207 new infections on average each day.

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