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Prachanda elected Nepal Prime Minister

Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda, 53, chairman of CPN-Maoist that launched a decade-long armed struggle against monarchy, grabbed 464 votes out of the 577 cast in the 601-strong Constituent Assembly.

world Updated: Aug 15, 2008 20:31 IST

Maoist chief Prachanda was on Friday elected as the first Prime Minister in post-monarchy Nepal as he swept a Constituent Assembly vote trouncing his Nepali Congress rival, four months after leading the former rebels to a surprise victory in the polls.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda, 53, chairman of CPN-Maoist that launched a decade-long armed struggle against monarchy, grabbed 464 votes out of the 577 cast in the 601-strong Constituent Assembly, after he received the backing of another major Left party the CPN(UML) and the Terai-based Madhesi Rights People's Forum.

Nepali Congress' candidate and former premier Sher Bahadur Deuba failed to muster a simple majority, winning just 113 votes in an election that saw the major party which had dominated the country's polity being isolated.

The elections ended a four-month long logjam over government formation which saw the mainstream parties locked in a bitter power struggle.

Prachanda's predecessor GP Koirala of Nepali Congress had already resigned under pressure from Maoists and was working in an interim capacity.

With Prachanda at helm, the Maoists are expected to get nine portfolios including the key ministries of Finance, Defence and Foreign Affairs, highly placed sources said.

The CPN-UML is expected to get six portfolios, including Home Affairs, Tourism and Forest. The MPRF is likely to get four berths including Information and Communication, Industry, Commerce and Supplies, and Agriculture, the sources said.
The full cabinet is likely to be announced on Saturday.

Today's poll was boycotted by Rastriya Janashakti Party, Rastriya Janamorcha and Nepal Workers and Peasants Party.
Prachanda's candidacy was announced on Thursday during a meeting of the three party alliance comprising Maoist, CPN-UML and Madhesi Peoples' Rights Forum.

The three parties also signed a seven point deal which included setting common minimum programme, operating security mechanism and sharing power through mutual understanding.

CPN-UML general secretary Jhalanath Khanal proposed Prachanda's candidacy and eight lawmakers including MPRF president Upendra Yadav and Baburam Bhattarai seconded it.

Bhattarai on Thursday said the new government will focus its attention on socio-economic transformation of the country.
The Maoists leader said his party is committed to implement all the agreements signed with the previous government related to peace process.

He said his party will immediately return all the seized property, dissolve the semi-military structure of Young Communist League, end all parallel structures of the party and all those members of the Parliament who have got the military post of the party will soon resign from their military posts.

In 1995, Man Mohan Adhikari became the first communist Prime Minister of Nepal for the term of nine months when he led the minority government of CPN-UML.