Nepal’s fractious lawmakers elected veteran politician Sushil Koirala as prime minister yesterday, with the 75-year-old tasked with steering through a new constitution to complete the Himalayan nation’s stalled peace process.
The silver-haired bachelor easily won a vote in the constituent assembly, which was elected in November in only the second national polls since the end of a civil war in 2006.
Koirala, from the family that dominates Nepal’s biggest party, the Nepali Congress, won 405 out of 553 votes cast after winning the support of the leftist Unified Marxist-Leninist at the weekend.
“The new government will help complete the task of drafting the constitution within a year,” Koirala, who was once jailed over the hijacking of a plane in India, told lawmakers. “We also expect assistance from our neighbors India and China as well as other friends to complete our responsibilities.”
Since Nepal’s first post-war elections in 2008, five prime ministers have served brief terms, the country has had no leader for long periods and the constituent assembly had been perpetually deadlocked.
The first version of the 601-member body, dominated by the one-time rebel Maoists, finally collapsed in May 2012 after failing to agree on a constitution, leading to the fresh polls in November last year.
The Maoists have been relegated to a humiliating third place with just 80 seats.