Nepal’s Maoist leader to be next PM

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The leader of Nepal’s Maoist party appeared certain to be the next prime minister after the deadline for nominations expired on Tuesday with only his name on the ballot.

Lawmakers in the Himalayan nation are due to elect a new prime minister on Wednesday after K.P. Sharma Oli resigned last week, minutes before facing a no-confidence motion in parliament.

“We have only received the nomination of Pushpa Kamal Dahal for the prime minister’s post,” deputy parliament spokesperson Sudarshan Kuinkel told AFP, referring to the Maoist party leader.

Dahal, better known by his nom de guerre Prachanda or “the fierce one”, led a decade-long Maoist insurgency before transforming the rebel movement into a political party after a 2006 peace deal.

He has served as prime minister once before, after the Maoists won elections in 2008, but only lasted nine months in office before resigning.

The party lost ground in the last elections in 2013 and is now only the third-biggest force in parliament.

But neither of the two larger parties have enough seats to govern alone. Dahal secured the backing of the largest party, the Nepali Congress, after pulling out of Oli’s coalition three weeks ago.

If elected, Dahal faces the twin challenges of rebuilding the country after a devastating earthquake and resolving simmering unrest over a divisive new constitution adopted last September.