Nepal has chosen a new Prime Minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
Who is he?
Dahal is the former leader of the communist rebels who staged a major uprising in the country in the late 90s. His emergence as PM on Sunday was with the backing of his former rival and other smaller political parties. The declaration was made by the president’s office after Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the leader of the Maoist Communist Party, met with the president to submit his claim for the position of PM following last month’s elections, marking a significant political turn in the Himalayan country.
How much of the parliament does he control?
More than half of the newly elected members of the House of Representatives, the lower house of Parliament, favour Dahal. He will probably take the oath of office today and later this week, he will have to demonstrate his majority in the 275-member parliament. Dahal has received the backing of seven parties, including his former ally turned adversary, the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist), under the leadership of Khadga Prasad Oli.
Multiple Disputes Over PM In the most recent parliamentary election in 2017, Dahal and Oli teamed up. However, about halfway through the five-year term, they started to disagree over who should remain as PM. They had first agreed to split the term, but Oli reportedly objected, infuriating Dahal. Dahal renounced the alliance and joined forces with Sher Bahadur Deuba’s Nepali Congress party to become a member of Deuba’s new coalition government. But like in the previous case, Deuba and Dahal split after the November 20 elections because they couldn’t agree on who takes the office of Prime Minister.
From 1996 through 2006, Dahal, sometimes referred to as Prachanda or the “fierce one,” oversaw a bloody Maoist insurgency. More than 17,000 people died, with the fate of many others unknown. The Maoists ended their armed uprising, joined a peace process with UN support in 2006, and transitioned into mainstream politics. In 2008, Dahal’s party won the most seats in the legislature, and he was appointed PM. A year later, however, he resigned due to disagreements with the president.