Leadership Change in Nepal Stirs Hopes of Stability

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HYDERABAD, India -- Nepal's chief judge was sworn in as head of an interim government on Thursday morning in an effort by the country's squabbling political parties to hold new elections.

Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi of Nepal's Supreme Court was sworn in by President Ram Baran Yadav at around 9 a.m., according to Mr. Yadav's spokesman. A home minister and law minister were sworn in at the same time.

"People are very optimistic today all over the country that at least now this government will be able to hold elections and the country will move forward," said the spokesman, Rajendra Dahal.

An agreement among the country's four largest political parties was signed late Wednesday night after months of bickering. But the agreement was opposed by many smaller parties as well as some legal groups, and there were widespread protests.

Nepal has been lurching from crisis to crisis for years. Its last Parliament, known as the Constituent Assembly, was elected in 2008, but its mandate expired last year after it failed to write a constitution. The government has been led by Baburam Bhattarai of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) since August 2011, but without a Parliament various civil functions have been gradually shutting down.

Rival parties did not want Mr. Bhattarai leading the government during the elections, but Mr. Bhattarai refused to surrender his post without a broad agreement on how the elections would be supervised.

Mr. Regmi had balked at an earlier agreement that would have required him to resign from the Supreme Court. Under the present agreement, his post on the court will be held by an interim chief justice. He will return to the court after elections are held. A vote is expected in the next three months.

Other issues that delayed an agreement among the parties involved an insistence by the Maoists of positions in the Nepalese Army and their demand for an amnesty on crimes committed during the civil war. The Maoists won some concessions for a top military post but were unable to win an agreement for general amnesty.

Mr. Regmi holds the title of chairman of the council of ministers. Under the agreement, he will be allowed to lead the government until November, if holding elections takes that long.

Prateek Pradhan contributed reporting from Katmandu, Nepal.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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