Nepal’s Maoist chief set to become prime minister

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KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal’s former Maoist rebel chief Prachanda looked set to become prime minister after no other candidate emerged on Tuesday, raising hopes that his government, the 24th in 26 years, would be more stable than its predecessors.

The election of a new prime minister, due in parliament on Wednesday, became necessary after K.P. Oli resigned last month just before a no-confidence motion brought by the Maoists who accused him of reneging on a power-sharing deal.

Parliament spokesman Bharat Raj Gautam said no competitors had come forward to challenge Prachanda’s candidacy as nominations closed on Tuesday.

“But the voting will still go ahead and he must show the support of the majority of the parliament members to become the prime minister,” Gautam said.

That looks like a formality as Prachanda, 61, is almost certain to win with the centrist Nepali Congress, which is the biggest party in the 595-seat parliament, and an alliance of several small parties, set to support him, party officials said.

Nepal adopted its first republican constitution in September that was meant to end years of instability following the abolition of the 239-year-old monarchy in 2008 in the mountainous country surrounded by India and China.

But ethnic Madhesis, living in the southern plains, opposed the new charter because it split their homeland into different provinces which they said would further marginalize them in politics dominated by the hill elite.

Prachanda, whose real name is Pushpa Kamal Dahal, has promised to address their grievances.

Prachanda is the nom de guerre he used while he was a rebel leader.

Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Robert Birsel