Prachanda is Nepal’s 39th Prime Minister

Kathmandu, Aug 3 (IANS) Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda was on Wednesday elected the 39th Prime Minister of Nepal, Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar said.

Out of a total 573 votes cast in the 595-member house, Prachanda received 363 votes in favour with 210 voting against him, Gharti Magar announced in Parliament.

Prachanda was backed by the largest party in the House — Nepali Congress, constituents of the United Democratic Madhesi Front and the Federal Alliance and some other fringe parties, The Himalayan Times reported.

A total 210 lawmakers including those of CPN-UML and Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal had cast votes against the Maoist leader.

On August 2, Prachanda filed his candidacy for Prime Minister at the Parliamentary Secretariat backed by Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav, a prominent Madhesi leader.

Though Dahal was the only contender for the post of the Prime Minister, he had to go through the voting process as the Constitution requires that the Prime Minister prove support of the majority lawmakers in the House.

Prachanda bagged support from the Sanghiya Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) which has been agitating for the last one year against the country’s new Constitution.

Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party leader Sarbendra Nath Sukla and Sadbhawana Party leader Laxman Lal Karna supported Prachanda’s bid for the Prime Minister’s post.

In support of Prachanda’s candidature, the SLMM on August 2 also signed a three-point agreement with the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) which together proposed to form a new government in Nepal. The alliance decided to support Dahal’s candidacy after the three-point agreement but will not join the government.

According to the agreement, the new government will implement the preconditions set by the Federal alliance, including declaring as martyrs all those killed during the Madhesi Morcha-sponsored agitation, providing relief to those affected and compensation to the injured.

The second point of the agreement stipulates that the government seek political consensus based on the Madhesi Morcha’s 11-point memorandum of demands and 26-point charter of demands of the Sanghiya Gathabandan (Federal alliance) and move a constitution amendment proposal in parliament.

A total of 298 votes were needed for Dahal to be elected the Prime Minister from among the existing 595 members in the House, The Himalayan Times reported.

It would be the second stint of the Maoist leader as the Prime Minister as he had led the government after the first Constituent Assembly elections, from August 18, 2008 to May 25, 2009.

Prachanda’s first tenure as Prime Minister lasted for 280 days. He had resigned on May 4, 2009 after the then President Ram Baran Yadav turned down a Cabinet decision to remove the then Nepal army Chief General Rookmangud Katawal and ordered Katawal to stay put in office.

According to The Himalayan Times, Prachanda worked as a teacher before joining politics. He was elected central member of the CPN Masal in 1984 through the fifth General Convention of the party, politburo member in 1985, and General Secretary in 1989.

Prachanda was elected General Secretary of the CPN United Centre, which later transformed into CPN Maoist, in 1991.

–IANS

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