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Veteran Nepali politician Deuba appointed PM for fifth time

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Sher Bahadur Deuba, who leads the Nepali Congress party, appointed prime minister after top court reinstated parliament.

Veteran Nepali politician Sher Bahadur Deuba has been appointed the South Asian nation’s prime minister for the fifth time, a day after the Supreme Court reinstated the parliament dissolved by caretaker Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in May.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari’s office said Deuba, who leads the Nepali Congress party, was appointed the new prime minister on Tuesday a day after the top court ordered that Oli be replaced by Deuba.

It also ordered the reinstatement of the House of Representatives, which was dissolved by Oli in May, and said the lawmakers must meet within seven days. Deuba, will have to prove in a vote that he has the support of more than half of the House members to continue in office.

In May, Oli dissolved the House of Representatives – the second time in less than six months – amid political infighting. The top court has dashed Oli’s plans to conduct elections for the second time since December.

Deuba, 75, will lead the Himalayan nation as it struggles with political divisions and the coronavirus.

The Nepali Congress leader was previously appointed prime minister in 1995, 2001, 2004 and 2017, but has never served a full term. This time as well, he is to serve only until parliamentary elections are held by 2022.

Deuba, right, is likely to bring Nepal back closer to India after Oli, left, favoured ties with its other giant neighbour, China [File: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters]

The current chamber was elected in 2008 after the end of a bloody Maoist rebellion and the abolition of Nepal’s 200-year-old monarchy.

Bring Nepal back closer to India

Deuba is likely to bring Nepal back closer to India after Oli favoured ties with its other giant neighbour, China.

He has been active in politics since he was a college student. He was jailed for nine years for protesting against the now-deposed monarchy’s autocratic rule. He has led Nepali Congress, the country’s oldest political party, for years.

In a televised speech, Oli criticised the Supreme Court decision but said he would leave office.

Oli’s decision to dissolve the House in May was challenged in the Supreme Court by a coalition of opposition parties that said they had the support of a majority in parliament to form a new government. His decision to dissolve the House in December was also reversed by the court in February.

Oli became prime minister in 2018 after his Nepal Communist Party (NCP) won a majority of the seats in the House of Representatives. The NCP was formed in 2018 through a merger between the Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre).

But the court in February also deregistered the ruling NCP over a separate petition, reviving the CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre).

However, he refused to honour an agreement to hand over power to the party’s co-leader after half his term, leading to political splits and weakening Oli’s hold on power. Oli has also been criticised for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.


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