Hours after he officially reacquired Nepali citizenship, Rastriya Swatantra Party has reappointed Rabi Lamichhane as its President.
The development came two days after the Supreme Court stripped him of all powerful posts over the status of his Nepali citizenship. While welcoming the verdict, Lamichhane described himself as “noncitizen”.
But on Sunday, soon after he re-acquired Nepali citizenship - that had become defunct after he became US citizen in 2014 – Lamichhane also surrendered his Nepali passport at the Department of Passport.
The District Administration Office, Kathmandu, issued him a new citizenship certificate after he formally applied for it stating he surrendered US citizenship in 2018.
After his party decided to reappoint him President, Lamichhane told repoters: "Now there's nothing more to say, but a lot to do."
Despite being a US passport-holder, the former TV show host had acquired Nepali passport in 2015 using the 1994 Nepali citizenship.
He is also accused of working in at least two Nepali media outlets between 2014 and 2018 without a valid work permit. He also led several controversial sting-operations, violating journalists' codes of conduct.
After Press Council of Nepal raised objections, he furnished a written reply, challenging its officials and famously stating that he was "not a journalist".
He also wrote that he would "feel honoured to work as a shoe-shiner rather than obtain a Press Pass" from the Department of Information.
Nepal Police is expected to continue investigations into his passport abuse case, now that he no longer remains Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister after Friday’s verdict.
Soon, Lamichhane is expected to return to Chitwan-2 to face his voters, but the Election Commission has yet to announce a date for the by-election.
After his exit, all eyes are on the Home Ministry. A RSP spokesperson, Mukul Dhakal, said his party would continue to lay claim to the Home Ministry.
Although Nepal’s law clears the way for the prime minister to appoint a non-MP such as Lamichhane as a minister, PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda is not in a mood to do so, according to his aides.
Prachanda is keen on keeping the Home Ministry under his command for now, they say.
Because the police investigation into his “illegal possession” of dual passports is unfinished, the stalled investigation process is expected to reopen in the days to come.
If that process goes ahead, Lamichhane may have to face criminal charges under the Passport Act.
Its Section 21 states that “one who receives or attempts to get a passport or travel documents by submitting false details can be fined Rs200,000 to half a million rupees and imprisoned for one to three years or both”.
If the verdict goes against his favour, legal experts say, Lamichhane might not be able to restart electoral politics.