Newly-elected Prime Minister Puspha Kamal Dahal waves to supporters on parliament premises on Wednesday. Dahal will be sworn in on Thursday. Dipesh Shrestha/Republica
Takes Madhes-based parties on board with 3-point deal
KATHMANDU, Aug 3: CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been elected prime minister for a second time, eight years after resigning from that post.
Dahal garnered 363 votes in the prime ministerial election in Parliament on Wednesday, while 210 lawmakers voted against him. Among the existing 595 members of parliament, 573 participated in the voting while 22 did not attend.
Following the vote, Speaker Onsari Gharti declared Dahal the new prime minister of the country, in line with Clause 3, Article 298 of the Constitution, as the votes garnered by Dahal constitute a majority of the existing members of parliament.
Dahal's first tenure as prime minister had lasted nine months. He resigned from the post on May 4, 2009 following his controversial sacking of the then army chief, Rukmangad Katuwal.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari will administer the oath of office and secrecy to Dahal amid a function on Thursday afternoon.
Nepali Congress, the largest party in Parliament, as well as Madhes-based parties and some other fringe parties voted for Dahal.
CPN-UML, the second largest party, Rastriya Prajatantra Party - Nepal (RPP-N), the fourth largest, CPN-ML, Nepal Workers Peasants Party and Rastriya Janamorcha voted against Dahal.
NC and the Maoist Center succeeded in taking the agitating Madhes-based parties on board the ruling coalition after signing a three-point agreement, Wednesday afternoon.
As per the agreement, the parties have agreed to present a constitution amendment bill based on their political understanding to address the constitution-related demands of the Madhes-based parties.
"We have not set any deadline for this now. But a talks team will be formed soon and a deadline will be set," said Laxman Lal Karna, co-chair of the Sadbhavana Party.
In line with the agreement, a high-level committee will be formed under the chairmanship of a former justice to probe incidents of violence and killings during the Madhes movement, immediately after the new government is formed. Likewise, the new government will declare as martyrs those died in the Madhes movement and provide financial support to the families of the dead and the injured. It will also withdraw cases against the cadres of Madhes-based parties as soon as possible.
"We have seconded Dahal for the post of prime minister as NC and the Maoist Center have signed an agreement with us (agitating Madhes-based parties) that the issues raised by the Madhes movement will be addressed through a constitutional amendment," said Upendra Yadav, chairman of Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN), while speaking at Parliament.
"It is an achievement of the Madhes movement that Nepali Congress and the Maoist Center are ready to address our demands through constitutional amendment. We hope the new coalition will fulfill its commitments soon," he added.
NC and the Maoist Center had agreed on July 13 to elect Dahal as prime minister and also decided to amend the constitution to address the demands of Madhesis and Tharus and other indigenous groups with an intention of taking the agitating Madhes-based parties on board the ruling coalition.
Following the seven-point agreement between the two parties, the Maoist Center had not only withdrawn its support from the government led by CPN -UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli but also registered a no confidence motion against Oli in Parliament, along with the Nepali Congress.
In the seven-point deal, the two parties also agreed to amend laws related to the transitional justice mechanisms and to resolve issues related to the ownership of lands that were transacted on the basis of household documents during the insurgency period.
Prime Minister Oli resigned on July 24 just ahead of voting on the no-confidence motion, paving the way for electing the new government.