Sunday, 5 February, 2023

Former guerrilla leader Prachanda returns as Nepal PM

Nepal's president appointed former guerrilla leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal prime minister for the third time on Sunday, after his Maoist party cobbled together a coalition following elections last month.

Dahal, better known by his nom de guerre Prachanda or "the fierce one", hid out for years in the jungle during Nepal's 1996-2006 civil war that killed nearly 17,000 people and led to the end of the monarchy.

Sagar Acharya, a spokesman for President Bidya Devi Bhandari, told AFP that Dahal, 68, has been appointed as the new prime minister and would be sworn in on Monday at 4:00 pm (1015 GMT).

Following the 2006 peace accords, Dahal transformed his Maoist revolutionary movement into a political party and served briefly as prime minister in 2008-9, and again in 2016-17.

Elections in the Himalayan nation of 29 million people on November 20 saw the ruling coalition of prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, 76, lose its majority although his Nepali Congress remained the largest party.

Dahal's Maoist CPN party has now formed an alliance with another communist party, the CPN (UML) -- they used to be one party before splitting -- and six others including combative television host Rabi Lamichhane's new National Independent Party.

Lamichhane, who once held a Guinness record for the longest talk show at over 62 hours, was one of more than 30 independent and minor party candidates to enter parliament after the election in a wave of frustration at Nepal's ageing political elite.