Kathmandu , Aug 8, 2016.
Another coalition government has taken over in Nepal, where Parliament elected former communist rebel leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal as prime minister on Wednesday. The change is unlikely to ease the political instability that has plagued this Himalayan nation for years. A look at 11 main challenges facing the tiny South Asian nation, home to the world’s tallest mountains:
1. SHORT-LIVED GOVERNMENTS:
The new government led by Dahal is the ninth in the past 10 years. It is also the 24th government over the last 26 years. Most have been coalition governments as squabbling over who gets to be prime minister or gets key ministerial portfolios has often ended partnerships.
2. STRANGE BEDFELLOWS:
A single political party has been unable to capture a majority of seats in parliamentary elections, forcing it to form a coalition with the second biggest vote getter. The main partners in the last government were the two largest communist parties, but their failed to overcome the differences between them.
The Maoists are former communist rebels who came to power after giving up armed struggle, while the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) has been mainstream for decades. They are both competing for voters who believe in communist ideology.
Dahal led the communist insurgency between 1996 and 2006, while his coalition partner Sher Bahadur Deuba (leader of the Nepali Congress party) once offered a $50,000 bounty for Dahal’s head when he was prime minister.
Nepal was ruled by kings for centuries until 2008, when the Constituent Assembly voted to abolish the monarchy and turn the country into a republic. The last king, Gyanendra Shah, left the royal palace and lives the life of a civilian.
Kings were believed by many people to be the reincarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, but in the past few decades they became unpopular for their authoritarian rule. After the massacre of 10 royal family members in 2001, when the crown prince gunned down his father, mother and relatives at a party, most people lost faith in the crown.
Gyanendra was largely unpopular and his son even more so owing to drunken brawls and car crashes allegedly involving him that killed at least two people.
4. NEW CONSTITUTION:
After the monarchy was abolished, political parties and Maoists attempted to draft a new constitution that would guarantee rights of citizens and those of marginalized groups. However, it took political parties seven years to complete the task. The first Constituent Assembly was elected in 2008 with a two-year deadline, but was disbanded after four years. The second assembly, elected in 2013, managed to finish the job in September 2015, but the constitution was rejected by ethnic groups in southern Nepal.
5. ETHNIC TROUBLE:
The Madhesi ethnic group in southern Nepal bordering India clashed with police and imposed a general strike in the region. They also blocked border crossings, cutting off supplies that led to severe shortages of fuel and medicines. More than 50 people were killed in the protests, which ended in February without meeting the group’s key demands— more land in the new federal state assigned to them by the new constitution. Other smaller ethnic groups also demanded their own separate states.
6. FRAGILE DEMOCRACY:
Street protests in 1990 forced King Birendra to give up the Panchayat system, where political parties were outlawed and the king was in full control of the rubber stamp government and parliament. After multiparty democracy was restored, political parties competed for power, position and money. Corruption was ever increasing and tainted political parties. When the Maoist rebels began fighting the government, King Gyanendra seized absolute power in 2004, jailing politicians, curbing fundamental.