KATHMANDU: Nepal’s new government, led by a former Maoist rebel commander, will try to balance ties with its immediate neighbours China and India for the economic growth of one of the world’s poorest countries, officials of the ruling coalition told Reuters.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who still goes by his nom de guerre Prachanda, surprisingly became prime minister on Sunday after leaving his previous coalition and with the support of the opposition Communist Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) party and five other smaller groups. Last month’s elections returned a hung parliament.
UML’s leader and Nepal’s former prime minister, Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, is believed to be pro-China.
Nepal is one of several South Asian countries where India and China seek influence. India has long considered Hindu-majority Nepal, a Himalayan country of 30 million, as a natural ally based on their close historical ties and long open border.
“We’ll maintain relationships of equi-proximity with both our neighbours,” Narayan Kaji Shrestha, a senior member of Prachanda’s Maoist Centre party and who is expected to be a cabinet minister, told Reuters.
“We must immediately focus on containing inflation, maintain reserves, raise capital expenses, narrow the trade deficit and lower interest rates.”
Other party leaders, speaking on the condition of anonymity before a swearing-in of new ministers, echoed Shrestha’s view.
Beijing and New Delhi have poured billions of dollars in aid and investment in Nepal, which is rich in potential to generate hydroelectric power. — Reuters