Nepal Lawmakers Elect Maoist Chief As Prime Minister

Nepal lawmakers elect Maoist chief as prime minister

KATHMANDU, (Pakistan Point News - 3rd August, 2016) : Nepal's new Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal pledged Wednesday to unite a country hit by deadly protests over constitutional changes after lawmakers elected the Maoist leader and former guerrilla to head a new government. Dahal, better known by his nom de guerre Prachanda or "the fierce one", led a decade-long Maoist insurgency before transforming the rebel movement into a political party after a 2006 peace deal.

He is now tasked with rebuilding the country after a devastating earthquake and resolving simmering unrest over the new national charter adopted last September. "I pledge that I will unite everyone in the country," he said in an address to parliament before the vote. "I have a responsibility to solve this problem. I feel that I have been put forward as a candidate to work as a bridge between (communities)," he said. Dahal, head of the Maoist party, ran unopposed and secured 363 out of 573 votes to become the Himalayan nation's premier for a second time.

He has served as prime minister once before, after the Maoists won elections in 2008, but only lasted nine months in office before resigning. Dahal, whose Maoists are the third-largest force in parliament, pulled out of a coalition led by K.P. Sharma Oli -- the former prime minister -- three weeks ago and secured the support of the biggest party, the Nepali Congress. He also won the backing of the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) -- an alliance of protesting parties -- paving the way for warmer ties between the new government and demonstrators from the Madhesi ethnic minority.

Oli, who heads the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), faced fierce criticism over his handling of a months-long border blockade by demonstrators who say the constitution left them marginalised. More than 50 people died in clashes between police and protesters demanding revisions to Federal state borders set out in the new charter.