Maoist Centre chairman becomes Nepal’s new prime minister

Nepal's former guerrilla leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal (left), better known by his nom de guerre Prachanda, hands over his documents to President Bidya Devi Bhandari to claim majority for his appointment as the new prime minister, at the president's office in Kathmandu on Dec 25, 2022. (RAJAN KAFLE / AFP)

KATHMANDU – Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), was tapped to head a new coalition government on Sunday.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari appointed Dahal, also known as Prachanda, as the new prime minister after he garnered the support of 169 lawmakers in the 275-strong House of Representatives.

Prachanda, who had served twice as the prime minister, is scheduled to take office at 4 pm on Monday

"President Bidya Devi Bhandari has appointed Pushpa Kamal Dahal, a member of the House of Representatives, as the prime minister based on Article 76 (2) of the constitution of Nepal," the President's Office said in a statement.

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The current ruling alliance led by the Nepali Congress party and the CPN-UML formed separate alliances for the Nov 20 general elections, but no single party could win a majority of seats either in the lower house or the seven provincial assemblies.

The ruling alliance broke down as Nepali Congress party president and Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba would not agree to Prachanda heading the new coalition for the first half of its five-year tenure, and Prachanda then approached CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli and they reached an agreement, under which Oli will take over the premiership for the second half of the tenure, said Dev Gurung, general secretary of the CPN (Maoist Centre).

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Prachanda, who had served twice as the prime minister, is scheduled to take office at 4 pm on Monday.