On February 3, Nepal ended a seven-month gridlock and 17 rounds of parliament voting to elect a new prime minister. Jhalanath Khanal, the chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal, won a clear majority after he gained the backing of the Maoist party.
The young Himalayan nation had been leaderless since the last government resigned amid sometimes violent protests in June 2010. Khanal, a former science teacher and veteran politician, faces many challenges ahead. He will need to find consensus among a bitterly divided legislature to complete the peace process and write a new constitution.He also faces the contentious issue of integrating former Maoist insurgents into the national army, high unemployment, power cuts, and balancing relations with Nepal's two neighbours India and China. Once a Hindu monarchy, Nepal has endured a traumatic transition to democracy since 2006. With a succession of leaders and a caretaker government, the public has grown increasingly angry with how politics is played in Nepal. But commentators claim there might be more instability to come. They say Nepal's fourth prime minister in three years will struggle to meet any of his government's objectives, as he will have to invest all his energy in political management and balancing conflicting interest groups just to survive.
This 101 East episode aired on Thursday, March 24, 2011. Repeats can be seen at the following times GMT: Thursday: 2230; Friday: 0930; Saturday: 0330; Sunday: 1630.
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