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Prachanda sworn in as Nepal’s new Prime Minister

Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda has been appointed as Nepal’s new Prime Minister

Kathmandu: Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda has been  sworn-in as Nepal’s 44th Prime Minister on Monday.

Amidst a function held at the Sheetalniwas, the president’s office, Prachanda took the oath of office and secrecy from President Bidya Devi Bhandari.

The oath-taking ceremony was also attended by the immediate past Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, leaders of the various political parties and high-ranking government officials.

The newly-appointed prime minister also formed an eight-member cabinet today. In the new cabinet, Bishnu Poudel is the deputy prime minister and finance minister. Poudel, who is presently vice president of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), is also a close confidant of his party chairman KP Sharma Oli. Earlier in 2018, he served as the finance minister in Oli’s cabinet.

Ravi Lamichhane, chairman of the Rastriya Swantantra Party, has been appointed the deputy prime minister and home minister. Lamichhane, whose party emerged as the fourth largest party in recent elections, has staked claim for more portfolios in the new cabinet.

Vice Chairman of the CPN (Maoist Center), Narayan Kaji Shrestha, has been appointed the deputy prime minister and physical infrastructure and transport minister.

Abdul Khan, who belongs to the CK Raut’s Janamat Party, has become the minister for industry.

Similarly, CPN UML lawmakers Jwala Kumari Sah, Damodar Bhandari and Rajendra Kumar Rai have also been appointed cabinet ministers. However, their portfolios have yet to be declared.

Ramesh Malla, an aide to Prime Minister Prachanda, said that the remaining work of distribution of key other posts and ministries are still being worked out.

The change of guard in Nepal comes a day after Prachanda surprisingly broke the five-party ruling alliance led by Deuba of the Nepali Congress party.

Upset by Deuba’s refusal to back him for the top executive job in their continued talks for the past two weeks, Prachanda eventually sought the support from the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) led by KP Sharma Oli and other fringe parties for the same.

On Sunday afternoon at Oli’s residence, a deal was struck between the CPN (Maoist Center), Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), Rastriya Swatantra Party, Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Janamat Party and the Nagarik Unmukti Party to make Prachanda the new prime minister. As per the understanding, Prachanda will remain in power for next two and a half years and then subsequently Oli will replace him.

The partners in the Maoist-UML coalition will also share the country’s plum posts including the president and speaker of the House of Representatives. According to leaders in the new dispensation, UML will get the posts of the president and speaker.

The new prime minister, 67 years old, has a comfortable majority in parliament with the support of 169 lawmakers from the coalition partners including the CPN (UML).

One has to secure the support of at least 138 lawmakers in the 275-member House of Representatives to become the prime minister as per the constitutional provisions.

Despite being the largest party, the Nepali Congress will stay in opposition as long as the current ruling alliance exists. Many have termed Prachanda’s decision to break the partnership with the Congress as opportunistic and a sheer disregard to the voters.

Also Read: Prachanda becomes Nepal’s new Prime Minister with support from former Premier Oli