Nepalese PM resigns two months after landmark polls

Nepalese PM Sher Bahadur Deuba announcing his resignation in Kathmandu on Feb 15, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Nepal's prime minister resigned Thursday (Feb 15), making way for a new communist government to take power two months after landmark elections in the impoverished Himalayan nation.

Sher Bahadur Deuba served just eight months as prime minister, overseeing the first elections to be held under a new national constitution intended to cement Nepal's transformation from Hindu monarchy to a federal republic.

Work on the constitution began 11 years ago as part of a deal that ended a brutal Maoist insurgency. But it was delayed by disagreements between the parties and only signed in 2015 after a devastating earthquake spurred warring politicians into action.

"My main responsibility was to hold the three phases of elections for the implementation of the new constitution," he said in a televised address to the country.

"My responsibility has been fulfilled so I have decided to resign.

The next government will be formed by an alliance of the main Communist party and the Maoists, who together trounced Deuba's Nepali Congress party in last year's polls.

The president is expected to appoint the Communist party leader, K.P. Sharma Oli, as prime minister in the next few days.

The historic elections in December were the first under the country's new post-war constitution, which sets out a sweeping overhaul of the political system, devolving significant power from the centre to the seven provinces.

The Communist alliance won a landslide victory, but the handover of power was delayed by disagreements over how the new election rules in the constitution should be implemented.

The long delay has dampened the optimism that accompanied the polls, when many voters cast their ballots hoping a new government would bring much-needed stability and development.

Nepal has cycled through 11 prime ministers since the civil war ended in 2006, allowing corruption to flourish and growth stagnate.

Rules under the new constitution make it harder to oust the premier, raising hopes that the next government could last a full five-year term.

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