An unopposed former Communist leader was elected Nepal’s new prime minister Saturday, ending nearly three weeks of political uncertainty.
Madhav Kumar Nepal of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) was the only person to serve as a candidate for the post after he received backing from more than 20 of the 25 parties in parliament. Nepal, 56, is a former general secretary of the Communist Party, but had resigned after the party made a poor showing last year against another Communist movement. In that vote, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) became the largest party, with 38 percent of the seats in the 601-member constituent assembly which also functions as parliament. Nepal had been general secretary since 1993 and served as the country’s deputy prime minister for nine months in 1995.
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Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the Maoist chairman, resigned as prime minister May 4 after the president overturned the Cabinet’s decision to sack the army chief. Nepal became a republic last year. The new government has two important tasks before it: the writing of a new constitution within a year, and integration of 19,600 Maoist combatants into the security forces. Without the support of the former Maoist rebels, these tasks cannot be achieved. The Maoists fought a 10-year insurgency aimed at abolishing the monarchy.