Veterans politician becomes Prime Minister of Nepal for the fifth time


KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) – A veteran politician was named Prime Minister of Nepal for the fifth time on Tuesday, the day after the Supreme Court reinstated the House of Representatives and confirmed his claim to be the new leader.

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s office announced that Sher Bahadur Deuba, who heads the Nepalese Congress Party, has been appointed as the new Prime Minister.

Deuba will lead the Himalayan nation in the fight against political divisions and the coronavirus.

The court ordered on Monday that Khadga Prasad Oli, who had led a transitional government until the planned elections, be replaced by Deuba.

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

Deuba was previously named Prime Minister in 1995, 2001, 2004 and 2017, but has never served a full term. Again, he should only be in office until the parliamentary elections in 2022.

He is likely to bring Nepal closer to India again after Oli favored ties with his other huge neighbor, China.

Deuba has been politically active since he was a student. He was sentenced to nine years in prison for protesting the autocratic rule of the now overthrown monarchy. For years he has headed the Nepali Congress, the oldest political party in the country.

In a televised address, Oli criticized the Supreme Court’s decision but said he would resign.

In May, Oli instructed the president to dissolve the House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament, and to announce new elections later this year. The decision was challenged in the Supreme Court by a coalition of opposition parties who said they had the support of a majority in parliament to form a new government.

Oli had previously dissolved the House of Representatives in December and called for new elections in April, but that too was rejected by the Supreme Court and the House of Representatives reinstated in February.

Oli became Prime Minister in 2018 after his Communist Party of Nepal won a majority of the seats in the House of Representatives. However, he refused to honor an agreement to hand over power to the party’s co-leader halfway through his tenure, which led to political divisions and weakened Oli’s position of power. Oli is also criticized for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

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