Maoist Leader is Nepal’s New PM

Posted August 29th, 2011 at 5:45 am (UTC-5)
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The deputy leader of Nepal's former Maoist rebels was sworn in as the country's new prime minister Monday.

Baburam Bhattarai won 340 votes Sunday in the 601-seat parliament after receiving the backing of the country's smaller political parties.

He has named a deputy prime minister from the alliance, but is still negotiating with the coalition about other Cabinet positions.

The 57-year-old Mr. Bhattarai replaces former prime minister Jhalnath Khanal, who resigned August 14 after failing to advance the country's peace process.

Nepal's government has been deadlocked since June, 2010, when then prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned under pressure from the Maoist opposition.

Maoists have more seats in parliament than any other party, but not enough to govern alone. They were allowed to rejoin the government after a 2006 peace deal. The agreement ended their decade-long insurgency that claimed more than 13,000 lives.

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.