Nepal PM wins parliamentary vote of confidence, third in 14 months

By Thomson Reuters Mar 13, 2024 | 5:43 AM

By Gopal Sharma

KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal won a parliamentary vote of confidence on Wednesday, a week after he formed his third coalition in just over a year to head a government which is dominated by the liberal communists.

Dahal, a former Maoist guerrilla leader in the Himalayan nation sandwiched between China and India, formed a coalition cabinet including the Nepali Congress party and other smaller groups last year.

He changed allies this month saying he was not given a free hand.

The new cabinet is dominated by the liberal Nepal Communist Party (UML) and includes several other smaller groups. He had also headed a coalition with the UML briefly after the 2022 elections.

Parliament Speaker Dev Raj Ghimire said Dahal won 157 votes against the 138 required in the 275-member parliament, while 110 lawmakers voted against him.

“I was let down several times … and was forced to form a new coalition cabinet, which is just a regular political process,” Dahal said in parliament on Wednesday, referring to the Nepali Congress, which is now the main opposition party.

Nepali Congress said after the break-up last week that the prime minister had deceived it by dumping it from the cabinet without any notice.

Dahal led a decade-long insurgency from 1996 which caused 17,000 deaths before he joined mainstream politics under the 2006 peace deal overseen by the United Nations.

He is serving a third time as prime minister but did not complete the full five-year term during his previous stints.

Nepal has had 13 governments since it abolished its 239-year-old monarchy in 2008 and became a republic.

Instability has hampered growth of the $40 billion economy and thousands of young Nepalis are heading abroad – mainly to the Middle East, South Korea and Malaysia – for work.

Nepal has extensive social and economic ties with India, a key donor. China is also pouring in aid and investment in infrastructure to woo Kathmandu as an ally.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by YP Rajesh and Ros Russell)