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Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ sworn in as Nepal's new PM

India TV News Desk Kathmandu 04 Aug 2016, 19:42:26 PM IST
India TV News Desk

Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, a former rebel leader, today took oath as Nepal's new Prime Minister, a day after being elected by lawmakers for the top post for the second time.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari administered oath of office to the 61-year-old CPN-Maoist Centre chairman at Rastrapati Bhawan, formally making him the 39th Prime Minister of Nepal.

Prachanda formed a six-member cabinet and has appointed two deputy prime ministers. Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara is the Deputy Prime Minister with the portfolio of Finance and Nepali Congress leader Bimalendra Nidhi is the Deputy Prime Minister with Home portfolio in the new cabinet.

President Bhandari also administered oath to both of them.

Prime Minister administered oath to the three other ministers - Ramesh Lekhak from Nepali Congress (Physical Planning and Transport), Daljit Shripali (Youth and Sports) and Gauri Shanker Chaudhary (Agriculture) from Maoist.

After being elected yesterday, Prachanda had promised to lead the nation toward economic development while working as a bridge between communities.

Parliamentary speaker Onsari Gharti Magar announced on Wednesday that Maoist party leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal received 363 votes from lawmakers, with 210 voting against him. Dahal has the support of Nepali Congress, the largest party, and several smaller parties.

It is Dahal's second stint as Prime Minister. His first tenure ended in 2009, when he resigned over differences with the president on the dismissal of an army chief. He is also the only communist leader to become the Prime Minister of the country twice.

Dahal led a communist insurgency against the government for a decade until 2006, when the rebels signed a U.N.-monitored peace agreement. More than 17,000 people were killed during the insurgency.

He spent many years underground, and in 1996 announced an armed revolt against the government, demanding that Nepal, a constitutional monarchy, be turned into a republic.

In the years that followed, the Maoist revolt spread to many parts of the country, and thousands of Dahal's supporters fought government troops.

The Maoists joined mainstream political parties in 2006 to force then-King Gyanendra to give up his authoritarian rule. The centuries-old monarchy was abolished in 2008. Dahal's party then became the country's largest, and he became the prime minister. He resigned in May 2009 because the army chief he had fired was reinstated by the president.

The new government is not expected to improve Nepal's political fortunes, with the two main parties in the new government having little in common.

Those parties were archrivals when the Maoists were fighting against the government. The leader of Nepali Congress, Sher Bahadur Deuba, who was prime minister at the time, had announced a $50,000 reward for the body of Dahal and other Maoist leaders.

The Prime Minister's post had been left vacant since last month after CPN-UML chairman K P Sharma Oli tendered his resignation.