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World

AFP
February 10, 2018

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Nepal Communist alliance to form govt

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s Communist parties will form the next government, the election commission confirmed on Friday after releasing long-delayed election results months after polls billed as a turning point for the Himalayan nation roiled by decades of political instability.

The alliance of the largest Communist party and former Maoist rebels has secured a strong majority in both the directly elected lower house of parliament and the indirectly elected upper house, according to official results from the commission.

Nepal voted in historic elections late last year seen as the end of a drawn-out peace process that began 11 years ago when Maoist guerrillas ended their bloody campaign against the state and joined government.

Two years later, Nepal overthrew its 240-year-old monarchy, beginning its transition to a federal democracy. The elections were the first under the country’s new post-war constitution, which sets out a sweeping overhaul of the political system, devolving significant power from the centre to the seven provinces.

The Communist alliance also has a majority in six of the seven newly-formed provincial assemblies. The final results were delayed by disagreements over how the new election rules in the constitution should be implemented.

The long delay has quashed much of the optimism that accompanied the polls, when many voters cast their ballots hoping a new government would bring much-needed stability and development to the impoverished country.

"It might take months for a new government to take full shape and start working. This sets a bad precedent," said Guna Raj Luitel, editor of the Nagarik newspaper. "Such a lengthy process will have a negative impact on our democracy. It will make it inefficient."

The leader of the Communist CPN-UML, K.P. Sharma Oli, is expected to be confirmed as the next prime minister in a parliamentary vote later this month. During his last term in office, sharp-tongued Oli tilted Nepal’s diplomatic relations towards China, straining ties with its traditional ally India.

Beijing responded by pumping vast sums of money into the impoverished Himalayan nation in the form of large-scale infrastructure projects. Delhi appears determined to redress that balance and nearly doubled its aid to Nepal in its latest annual budget. It also sent foreign minister Sushma Swaraj to Kathmandu last week on a charm offensive, which included meetings with prime minister-in-waiting Oli.

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