The lower house of Nepal’s parliament on Monday rejected a vote of confidence sought by Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, a development that could push the small South Asian country further into political crisis amid a raging pandemic.

Oli lost the confidence vote 124-93, after several dissident leaders of his party, the ruling Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), boycotted the voting process. Another 15 lawmakers from a regional party stayed neutral, speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota told the parliament after the voting.

It’s unclear whether Oli will resign. He has said that he respects the constitution and the parliament.

Oli, who led a communist alliance to a landslide win in 2017 elections, was forced to seek the confidence vote after an unsuccessful bid to dissolve parliament and stop the split of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, a party formed by the merger between CPN-UML and former Maoist rebels.

The deepening political crisis has raised further doubts about Nepal’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, which has been spreading like wildfire across the small South Asian country. With a population of around 29 million, Nepal logged 8,850 cases with 88 deaths on Sunday, taking the total number of coronavirus cases to 394,667.

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