Pushpa Kamal Dal, a former Maoist leader who led a decade-long insurgency against the country’s monarchy, is prime minister for the third time in the Himalayan country of Nepal. He is also known as ‘De Guerre the Great’. which means ‘terrible’ or ‘fierce’. He was appointed prime minister for a third term on Sunday in an alliance with the main opposition party after no party secured a single majority in last month’s election.

Al-Jazeera reported that the new government will lead the first half of the five-year term with the support of the opposition Communist Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) Party and other smaller parties, party officials said on Sunday.

Tika Dhakal, an aide to President Vidya Devi Bhandari, told Reuters, “He has been appointed and commands the support of a large majority in Parliament.”

Prachanda was supposed to take oath on Monday. He will then prove his majority in the 275-member House later this week. Seven parties have pledged their support to him.

Prachanda, who will succeed Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepali Congress Party, will step down in 2025. Local media reported that this will pave the way for UML to take office.

“This is the understanding,” Dev Gurung, general secretary of Prachanda’s Maoist Center Party, told Reuters after the meeting of the new alliance. The rest of the distribution of other important posts and ministries is yet to be done.

The new coalition came to power hours after Prachanda, 68, surprisingly quit the ruling coalition led by 76-year-old Deuba. Deuba’s Nepali Congress emerged as the single largest party after the November 20 polls. He refused to support Prachanda for the post of Prime Minister.

Prachanda’s Maoist Center Party won 32 seats in the 275-member House of Representatives. The UML has 78 seats and the rest will be controlled by smaller parties, required for the 138-majority. The main opposition Nepali Congress Party won 89 seats.

During Nepal’s 1996-2006 civil war, Prachanda was hiding in the jungle for many years. About 17,000 people were killed in the war and the country’s 239-year-old monarchy came to an end.

In 2006, the Maoists abandoned their armed insurgency, joined the UN-assisted peace process and entered mainstream politics. Prachanda briefly served as Prime Minister in 2008-09 and 2016-17.

Prachanda may or may not be able to stabilize the country due to many alliance partners, according to analysts. At the moment he is also facing serious economic challenges. Because currently inflation in the country is more than 8 percent, which is the highest in six years. In addition, Nepal now faces dwindling foreign exchange reserves with increasing dependence on basic commodity imports.

Dipendra Bahadur Kshetri, a former governor of Nepal’s central bank, told Reuters that the economy is unlikely to grow as political instability dampens investment and business.

Nepal has been hampered by political instability, frequent changes in government, and factional strife, which has delayed constitution-making and slowed economic development. The Himalayan nation has seen 10 changes of government since 2008 after the monarchy was abolished.

(Dhaka Times / 26 December / SAT)