KATHMANDU: Nepal’s new prime minister was sworn in on Monday, leading a fragile coalition that includes his former opponent and other smaller political parties.
Maoist communist party leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal was sworn in by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari at the President’s House in Kathmandu in a ceremony attended by senior officials, diplomats and politicians.
Dahal has appointed three deputies and four other ministers to the Cabinet which is expected to be expanded in the coming days to accommodate more members from the seven parties in the new coalition government.
Dahal has the support of more than half of the members of the newly elected 275-member House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament where he will have to prove his majority.
It is Dahal’s third time in power since his Maoist group abandoned an armed revolt and joined mainstream politics in 2006.
In addition to having to hold together political parties with different beliefs, Dahal must tackle the revival of the country’s economy which has been hit hard by the pandemic and balance relations with its giant neighbors – China and India. – each vying for influence in Nepal.
Seven parties back Dahal, including his friend turned foe, the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist), led by Khadga Prasad Oli.
Dahal and Oli had teamed up during the last parliamentary elections in 2017, but midway through the five-year term they began bickering over who would go on to be prime minister. It was initially agreed that they would share the term, but Oli apparently refused, angering Dahal.
Dahal abandoned the partnership and aligned himself with Sher Bahadur Deuba and his Nepalese Congress party to be part of a new Deuba-led coalition government.
After the November 20 elections, Deuba and Dahal fell out after failing to agree on who would become prime minister.
Dahal, also known as Prachanda, or “the ferocious”, led a violent Maoist communist insurgency from 1996 to 2006. More than 17,000 people were killed and the status of many more remains unknown.
The Maoists gave up their armed revolt, joined a UN-assisted peace process in 2006 and entered mainstream politics. Dahal’s party won the most parliamentary seats in 2008 and he became prime minister, but resigned a year later over disputes with the president.

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