KATHMANDU: Nepal's top court on Friday barred combative deputy prime minister Rabi Lamichhane from office for failing to regain citizenship in the Himalayan republic after giving up his US passport.

Lamichhane, 48, is well-known for his career as a television host, making his name as an anti-corruption crusader through aggressive interviews with public officials.

He was one of the biggest winners in elections last November, securing his new party a place in the ruling coalition and himself the post of deputy prime minister.

But Supreme Court spokesman Bimal Poudel told AFP that Lamichhane was ineligible to keep his post after not “following the due process” when he relinquished his US citizenship in 2018.

“The constitutional bench of the Supreme Court has ruled that his candidacy and election to the post of a member of the House of Representatives are void,“ Poudel said.

Only Nepali citizens are allowed to stand for election and hold office, and the republic does not allow dual citizenship.

Court documents state that Lamichhane did not reapply for Nepali citizenship as required by the law.

Lamichhane was elected on the back of widespread discontent over Nepal's elderly, back-scratching political leadership at a time when the country's remittance- and tourism-dependent economy is teetering.

“This issue is a setback to that wave of change,“ Guna Raj Luitel, editor of local daily Nagarik, told AFP.

“The people were hopeful in the new faces but this will affect the trust they had put in them.” - AFP