Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba won a trust vote in the House this week, capping more than two years of political turmoil, and the country has avoided holding expensive early elections.
But this is just the beginning and Deuba has his work cut out, with vaccinating 70% of Nepal’s population against Covid-19 his biggest responsibility. But the fact that he has yet to appoint a Health Minister hints at his priorities.
His first ministerial appointments to appease members of his own NC, Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s MC and the Bhattarai-Yadav JSP is proof enough that it’s politics as usual in Nepal.
Ironically, 20 years ago this week, Deuba was appointed the PM for the second time, after Girija Prasad Koirala was forced to step down. Much like now, he had a long to-do list, which looks frighteningly similar to what Nepal and Nepalis still need.
The only question is if he can deliver where he has failed so many times before. Excerpts from page 1 story from issue #53 27 July-2 August 2001:
Getting elected prime minister by his parliamentary party was the easy part for Sher Bahadur Deuba. Now comes the hard part.
It was an indication of just how difficult even simple things could be that it took him four days to cobble together a 13-member cabinet. He had to satisfy dissatisfied dissidents, appease recent defectors, oblige those who had supported him in Pokhara — all the while trying to keep the party united and get a relatively honest, efficient and accountable team. It was a thankless and near-impossible task.
Deuba immediately activated his links with the underground Maoists and announced what almost appeared like a joint suspension of offensives. For the first time in the six-year war, state-run radio and television broadcast a statement by Maoist Chairman Prachanda. He “requested” his militia to stop all “pre-planned armed attacks and go into active defence” mode.
With the immediate problem postponed, Deuba has bought some time to address other pressing issues. But no one will envy his long to-do list:
Make the truce hold while considering Prachanda’s demand of confidence building measures: making public the whereabouts of missing rebels, exchanging prisoners and annulling the previous government’s moves to fight the insurgency, including the paramilitary and the hearts-and-minds ISDP.
Deliver on promises left unfulfilled by his predecessor: maintain law and order, improve governance and control corruption.
Deal with an impatient parliamentary opposition led by the UML as things hot up ahead of local elections next year.
Boost investor confidence, business and tourism. All three are related to political stability and resolving the insurgency.
From archives material of Nepali Times of the past 20 years, site search: www.nepalitimes.com