February 4, 2023

Raven Tribune

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Pushpa Kamal Dahal: Former Nepalese guerrilla chief becomes new Prime Minister


A former Maoist fighter who led a decade-long insurgency against Nepal’s Hindu monarchy was appointed prime minister on Sunday for the third time, allying himself with the main opposition after last month’s election, which restored a hung parliament.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who still goes by his nom de guerre Prachanda — meaning “terrible” or “fierce” — will head the new government for the first half of a five-year term with the backing of the Communist Unified Marxist-Leninist opposition (UML) and some other smaller groups, party officials said. .

“He has been appointed and has the support of a large majority in parliament,” Tika Dhakal, aide to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, told Reuters.

Local media has reported that Prachanda, who replaced Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepali Congress Party, will step down in 2025, making room for the United Marxist-Leninist Party (UMLP) to take over.

“This is the understanding. The remaining work to distribute other key posts and ministries is not yet done,” Dev Gurung, general secretary of Prachanda’s Maoist Center Party, told Reuters after a meeting of the new coalition.

The new coalition came to power hours after Prachanda, 68, abruptly withdrew from the ruling coalition led by Deuba of the Nepali Congress Party. Deuba refused to support Prachanda for the post of Chief Minister.

Deuba and Prachanda both campaigned in the November elections vowing to keep the old alliance intact for several years.

Prachanda’s Center Party, the Maoist party, won 32 of the 275-member House of Representatives. The UML has 78 seats, and the rest, required for a majority of 138, will be controlled by smaller groups.

The Nepali Congress Party will be the main opposition, with 89 seats.

Analysts said Prachanda is unlikely to provide stability to the country because of the many partners in the alliance. It also faces serious economic challenges.

Inflation has reached more than 8%, the highest rate in six years. Nepal tucked between China And the IndiaIt also faces dwindling foreign exchange reserves, with increasing reliance on commodity imports.

“It is unlikely that the economy will grow because political instability will scare away investment and businesses,” Dependra Bahadur Kshetri, former central bank governor, told Reuters.

Nepal has seen 10 changes of government since 2008 when the 239-year-old monarchy was abolished.

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