Nepal’s Revolving Door Produces a New Leader but No Hoped-For Change


The former leader of a decade-long Maoist rebellion was elected prime minister by Nepal’s Parliament on Monday, a move that kept the old guard in power despite growing calls for change and was welcomed in China as it competes for influence in the Himalayan nation.

The former rebellion leader, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, 68, emerged as the country’s top leader for the third time in 14 years after weeks of negotiations that followed an inconclusive November election and unexpectedly brought the country’s two main communist parties closer together.

In Nepal’s musical-chair electoral system, Mr. Dahal will succeed Sher Bahadur Deuba, 76, who had hoped to secure a sixth term as prime minister. The principal bloc supporting Mr. Dahal was led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), chaired by another former prime minister, K.P. Sharma Oli, who himself had been seeking a fourth term.

Many Nepali voters reacted to Mr. Dahal’s swearing-in on Monday with a note of despair.

“No excitement. He was already elected prime minister twice but did nothing for us,” said Saroj Basnet, 45, a businessman from Lalitpur, near the capital, Kathmandu. What little hope he found in the election, Mr. Basnet said, came “from new faces who are joining government as ministers.”

Mr. Dahal’s victory represented a continuation of the establishment in an election that drew an unusual number of young and first-time candidates clamoring for a fresh direction in one of Asia’s poorest nations.

It was also greeted warmly in China, which has made increasing inroads in Nepali politics through infrastructure development financing and aid as neighboring India struggles to keep the country firmly within its own sphere of influence.

Mr. Dahal, the head of another communist party, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center), first became prime minister in 2008, after abandoning a decade-long insurgency that claimed the lives of 17,000 people.

The armed rebellion succeeded in overthrowing the centuries-old Hindu monarchy and establishing a democratic republic, which Mr. Dahal and his supporters said would pave a path to economic prosperity for Nepal.

But as the country has struggled to find political stability, churning through 13 governments in 14 years, Nepal has failed to develop at an adequate pace for a largely young population that is concentrated in Kathmandu but also spread across a remote, mountainous landscape. No government since 2008 has managed to complete a full term.

With high unemployment and little job creation, the country’s economy depends on remittances from citizens working abroad. Every year, about 600,000 young people in the country of 30 million leave for the Persian Gulf and Malaysia in search of work.



Sahred From Source link World News

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