10/12/2015, 00.00
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Nepal elects Communist Sharma Oli as prime minister

by Christopher Sharma
He stood against outgoing Prime Minister Sushil Koirala. During his campaign, he pledged to lead the country’s reconstruction following its recent earthquake and resolve the diplomatic and economic crisis with India. India and China sent congratulations.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli is the new prime minister of Nepal. The head of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist–Leninist (CPN-UML) was elected yesterday by Nepal’s unicameral Parliament with 338 votes against outgoing Prime Minister and Nepali Congress leader Sushil Koirala, who received 249 votes.

Oli is the first prime minister chosen after the constituent assembly adopted Nepal’s first republican constitution last month. In his campaign for the post, he pledged to promote the country’s development as well as lead it reconstruction following April’s earthquake. Likewise, he said he would work to reduce tensions with India over the latter’s unofficial embargo on its exports to Nepal.

Nepal’s parliament elected the country’s new prime minister in accordance with the constitution promulgated on 20 September, which gives the legislature the power to elect the president, the prime minister as well as its speaker and deputy speaker.

The veteran Communist leader, 63, was sworn in today by President Ram Baran Yadav. He was elected with the support of a number of smaller parties, including the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the Hindu-based Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik (which represents the Madhesi minority).

All three parties decided to reward the candidate for his political stance. He has opposed India’s de facto embargo on exports to the mountain nation, which is having a serious impact on people's daily lives and could lead to civil war.

By contrast, the Nepali Congress and other parties representing the Madhesi minority in the Terai region backed Koirala. The aforementioned region has been shaken in recent weeks by violent protests against the new constitution, which protesters oppose for ignoring local demands.

Immediately after his election, Oli declared that he would work with all the parties in Parliament to resolve the problems facing the country.

"The country is in need of development,” he said. “I will take a lead in resolving problems including those in Tarai-Madhes and the transit points on the southern border”. At the same time, “I expect support from all the parties.”

Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Nepal’s new head of government within a few hours of the vote, and invited him for an official visit to Delhi.

Other political leaders also sent their well wishes, including Chinese Ambassador Wu Chuntai.

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