Nepal Parliament Elects Maoist PM

Posted August 28th, 2011 at 10:05 am (UTC-5)
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Nepal's parliament has elected a senior Maoist leader as the country's new prime minister.

Baburam Bhattarai, a member of the United Communist Party of Nepal, won 340 votes in the 601-seat parliament Sunday after receiving the backing of the country's smaller political parties. He defeated Ram Chandra Poudel of the Nepali Congress party, who received 235 votes.

The 57-year-old Bhattarai will replace former Prime Minister Jhalnath Khanal, who resigned August 14 after failing to advance the country's peace process.

Bhattarai is the second highest member of the former communist rebel group after its leader Prachanda.

Maoists have more seats in parliament than any other party, but not enough to govern alone. They were allowed to rejoin the government following a 2006 peace agreement that ended a decade-long Maoist insurgency.

The peace process has since been stalled by deep differences between the country's political parties. They disagree on the shape of the new constitution and on the future of about 19,000 former Maoist fighters who are living in camps.