Maoist chief Prachanda was on Wednesday elected by legislators as Nepal’s Prime Minister for a second time, with his elevation expected to bring the much-needed political stability in a country bogged
Maoist chief Prachanda was on Wednesday elected by legislators as Nepal’s Prime Minister for a second time, with his elevation expected to bring the much-needed political stability in a country bogged down by deep divisions over the new Constitution.
Though Pushpa Kamal Dahal — better known as Prachanda — was the only contender for the top post, he had to go through the voting as the Constitution requires the Prime Minister to prove support of the majority legislators in the House.
The 61-year-old CPN-Maoist Centre chief was elected Prime Minister with 363 votes in favour and 210 against him. Out of a total 595 members, 22 did not vote.
Ahead of the election, Prachanda addressed the House and said that he would try to lead the nation toward economic development while moving ahead with the spirit of national consensus during his premiership.
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.
Mr 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.
Mr 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.
Commentators say Mr Dahal is likely to be more sympathetic to protesters’ concerns following the Madhesi parties’ decision to back his candidacy.
“Prachanda is likely to address the long-pending issues raised by Madheshi parties... But he will have to bring (his former coalition partner) UML on board in order to amend the constitution,” said Guna Raj Luitel, editor of Nepali daily Nagarik.
Any changes to the Constitution must be passed in Parliament by a two-thirds majority, making Mr Oli's UML, which holds 182 out of 595 seats, an important source of support.
The new charter, the first drawn up by elected representatives, was meant to bolster Nepal’s transformation from a Hindu monarchy to a democratic republic after decades of political instability.