Nepal: Maoist Leader Emerges As New PM

Former Maoist guerrilla leader, Pushpa Kamal Dahal — better known by his nom de guerre "Prachanda" — was sworn in as prime minister of Nepal on Monday. His Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) finished third in the November elections, which resulted in a hung parliament.

Nepal: Maoist Leader Emerges As New PM
Image credit: AFP [via Al Jazeera]

Facts

  • Former Maoist guerrilla leader, Pushpa Kamal Dahal — better known by his nom de guerre "Prachanda" — was sworn in as prime minister of Nepal on Monday. His Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) finished third in the November elections, which resulted in a hung parliament.
  • The announcement came hours after Prachanda walked out of the Nepali Congress party's Sher Bahadur Deuba-led ruling alliance and joined a coalition with the opposition communist Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) party and five other smaller groups.
  • Though Nepali Congress remains the largest party in the 275-member parliament with 89 seats, it has failed to reach the 138-majority threshold needed to form the new government and its leader Deuba refused to back Prachanda, whose party won 32 seats.
  • According to local media, the coalition has agreed that Prachanda will serve for the first half of the five-year term, stepping down in 2025 to make way for the UML, which controls 78 seats, to take over the office.
  • Prachanda led the Maoist insurgency from 1996 to 2006, which claimed the lives of over 17K people and led to the abolition of the country's 239-year-old monarchy in 2008. He served as prime minister for two year-long terms from 2008 to 2009 and 2016 to 2017.
  • Pakistan's PM Shehbaz Sharif, India's PM Narendra Modi, the spokesman for the Chinese Embassy, and US Ambassador Dean R. Thompson congratulated Prachanda on being appointed as the 44th prime minister of Nepal, with the latter praising the country's democratic traditions.

Sources: Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Reuters, DW, and Kathmandu Post.

Narratives

  • Anti-China narrative, as provided by Swarajya. This is clearly the result of Chinese meddling. Beijing has finally put into practice its years-old plans to push all of Nepal's communist parties together to form the next government. This move has kept the more India-friendly Nepali Congress out of power and is likely to favor Chinese geopolitical interests.
  • Pro-China narrative, as provided by Global Times. Nepal's relations with either neighbor won't be affected by this election, as major parties have all been clear that Kathmandu must maintain good relationships with both the PRC and India. Nevertheless friendship with Beijing mean tangible benefits to Nepalis, including high-quality cooperation in investment, infrastructure, and other areas.