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Nepal picks Koirala as new PM, but challenges remain

world Updated: Feb 10, 2014 23:22 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times
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Nepal ended its 11-month-old experiment with a non-political interim government on Monday by electing president of the country’s oldest political party as the new prime minister.

Sushil Koirala, 74, who heads the Nepali Congress, which emerged winner in the November polls, was elected unopposed by the newly-elected constituent assembly that doubles as Parliament.

He becomes Nepal’s 37th prime minister and the sixth after the country became a republic in 2008 to reach the topmost executive post. Koirala secured the support of 405 members, while 148 others voted against him. A total of 553 members of the 601-member constituent assembly had taken part in voting. The bachelor, who belongs to Nepal’s first political family, is the fourth Koirala in over 50 years after Matrika Prasad, Bishweshwar Prasad and Girija Prasad to have reached the topmost executive post.

“My efforts would be to take all parties along and deliver a new constitution as per peoples’ expectations within one year,” Koirala said in his brief remark after getting elected. His immediate task would be to form a coalition government and draft the country’s new constitution within the promised one-year deadline.

He would be taking oath of office and secrecy on Wednesday.

On Sunday, the NC signed a deal with the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), the second largest party, over power sharing and fresh election for president and vice-president once the constitution is promulgated.

Koirala’s election will bring the curtains down on Nepal’s interim government, which was headed by the country’s chief justice and put in place in March last year by the major political parties. Khil Raj Regmi, who headed the interim government could return to the Supreme Court to take up his earlier post.