A former Maoist leader who led a decades-long rebellion against the Nepalese monarchy was appointed prime minister for the third time in alliance with the main opposition following the return of a parliament without a clear majority in last month’s elections.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who still bears his fighting name Prachanda — which means “terrible” or “fierce” — will head the new government in the first half of the five-year term with the support of the opposition communist Unified Marxist-Leninist Party (UML) and other smaller groups, party representatives said on Sunday.
“He was appointed and has the support of a large majority of parliament,” Tika Dhakal, adviser to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, told Reuters news agency.
Prachanda is expected to take the oath of office on Monday and prove his majority in the 275-member House of Representatives later this week. Seven parties have pledged their support for him.
Prachanda, who replaces Sher Bahadur Deuba from the Nepalese Congress Party, will resign in 2025 and thus make room for the UML to take office, local media reported.
“That is understanding. The remaining work on the allocation of important other offices and ministries has yet to be clarified,” Dev Gurung, general secretary of the Prachanda Maoist Center Party, told Reuters after a meeting of the new coalition.
The new coalition comes to power hours after Prachanda, 68, surprisingly left the government alliance led by 76-year-old Deuba.
Deuba, whose Nepalese Congress emerged as the largest single party after the November 20 elections, refused to support Prachanda in appointing the prime minister.
Prachandra’s Maoist Center Party won 32 seats in the 275-member House of Representatives. The UML has 78 seats, and the rest required for the 138 majority is controlled by smaller groups.
The Nepalese Congress Party will be the main opposition and control 89 seats.
Prachanda hid in the jungle for years during the 1996-2006 civil war in Nepal, which killed almost 17,000 people and led to the end of the 239-year-old monarchy.
In 2006, the Maoists gave up their armed insurrection, joined a UN-backed peace process, and entered mainstream politics. Prachanda briefly served as prime minister in 2008-09 and again in 2016-17.
According to analysts, it is unlikely that Prachanda would offer stability to the country due to the many coalition partners. He also faces serious economic challenges.
Inflation is more than 8 percent, the highest level in six years. Nepal is also faced with dwindling foreign exchange reserves and is increasingly dependent on imports of basic goods.
“The economy is unlikely to grow as political instability will scare investments and companies,” former central bank governor Deependra Bahadur Kshetri told Reuters.
Nepal was hampered by political instability, frequent changes of government, and bickering between parties, which were blamed for delays in drafting the constitution and slow economic development.
The Himalayan nation has had 10 changes of government since 2008, when the monarchy was abolished.