02/04/2011, 00.00
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After a seven-month standoff, Nepal has a new prime minister

by Kalpit Parajuli
Jhala Nath Kanal, from the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist, was elected after 17 rounds of voting, the first in June 2010. After Maoist leader Prachanda pulled out of the race, Maoist support was crucial for Kanal’s victory. The new government wants to conclude the peace process and provide equality for all religious minorities.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepal’s parliament has elected a new prime minister after seven months of deadlock and political crisis. He is Jhala Nath Kanal, head of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN–UML). He won after Maoists dropped their demand that their historic leader Prachanda be elected and cast their ballots instead in favour of Kanal.

The new prime minister was elected on the 17th round of voting; the first one was held in June 2010 following the resignation of Madhav Kumar Nepal, who stayed on as caretaker prime minister for seven months because of the inability of the country’s political parties to agree on a successor.

Right after his victory, Prime Minister Kanal spoke to Asia News. “My priority is on the formation of new government with all-party political understanding,” he said. This should be followed by the conclusion to the “Nepalese peace process and writing new constitution on the stipulated time.” In addition, “The constitution will be inclusive of all voices from minorities, backward ethnic communities and women."

Speaking about the recent controversy between Hindus, Christians and Muslims over burial grounds in Pashupati (Kathmandu), the new prime minister said the new constitution would enshrine the separation of state and religion.

“Minority rights will be ensured by my government and the new constitution,” he said. “Current problems exist because of the past history of Hindu domination and transitional situation of the country”.

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