Former Communist Leader Becomes Nepal’s New PM

Nepal's former guerrilla leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal (2L), better known as Prachanda, leaving the president's office to claim majority for his appointment as the new prime minister, in Bhaktapur on the outskirts of Kathmandu, Dec.25, 2022.

Leader of former communist rebels Pushpa Kamal Dahal became Nepal’s new prime minister Sunday with the support from his ex-opponent and other smaller political parties.

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari made the announcement  after the Maoist communist party leader met her to stake his claim for the prime minister following last month’s elections in a major twist in politics in the Himalayan nation. Dahal has received the trust of more than half the members of the newly elected House of Representatives, the lower house of Parliament.

Seven parties have pledged their support for Dahal, including his friend-turned-foe, the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist), led by Khadga Prasad Oli. Dahal and Oli had partnered in the last parliamentary election in 2017, but midway through the five-year term they began to squabble on who would continue as the prime minister. It was initially agreed that they would share the term, but Oli apparently, angering Dahal. Dahal abandoned the partnership and aligned with Sher Bahadur Deuba and his Nepali Congress party to be part of a new coalition government that was led by Deuba.After the Nov. 20 elections, Deuba and Dahal fell out after failing to agree on who would become the prime minister.

Dahal, also known as Prachanda, or the “fierce one,” led a violent Maoist communist insurgency from 1996 to 2006. More than 17,000 people were killed and the status of many others remains unknown. The Maoists gave up their armed revolt, joined a U.N.assisted peace process in 2006 and entered mainstream politics. Dahal’s party secured the most parliamentary seats in 2008 and he became prime minister but quit a year later over differences with the president. No government since the abolition of the centuries-old monarchy in 2008 has completed a full term.

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