For four months following the historic elections for a constituent assembly — which formally ended the monarchy and established a republic — the small Himalayan nation was in a state of limbo as right-wing forces disrupted attempts to establish a national consensus government.
On August 15, the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), which won the highest number of votes in the elections, was finally able to overcome the hurdles and formed government, with the Maoist leader Prachanda being elected prime minister with almost 80% of the votes of assembly delegates present.
The new government, lead by the CPN-M, also involves the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) and the Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum (MPRF).
The Maoists received twice the vote of their nearest competitor in the elections. The CPN-UML and the MPRF are the third and fourth largest parties respectively in the assembly. The new government will also involve a number of smaller leftist and ethnic parties.
The struggle for the formation of a new government began in the immediate aftermath of the April elections.
The success of the Maoists came as a complete surprise to the Kathmandu-based political establishment. While the European Union and the Carter Center declared the elections where held in a free and fair atmosphere, the political establishment tried to blame their poor showing on supposed Maoist "terror tactics".
The Nepalese Congress, the main right-wing party that received the second-highest vote, began with the support of the US and India to try and exclude the Maoists from power. The NC put forward a series of demands, including that the CPN-M disband its youth wing, the Young Communist League — hypocritical as the NC has its own youth organisation.
The NC also demanded that the Maoists "embrace democracy", even though, judging by the election results, the CPN-M has embraced democratic elections twice as well as the NC!
The anti-Maoist manoeuvres culminated in the elections for Nepal's first president in July when an "immoral and apolitical" alliance (in the words of Prachanda) was formed between the CPN-UML, the NC and the MPRF in a numbers game with no political basis beyond mutual power lust. This resulted in the Maois-backed candidate (a veteran republican activist and non-member of the CPN-M) being defeated by the NC candidate Dr Ram Baran Yadav.
After the presidential elections, the Maoists expressed the desire to stay outside of the government. The CPN-M expressed its frustration at the hurdles constantly being thrown in the way of a national unity government, refusing to participate in a government made impotent by sectarianism and opportunist alliances.
The Maoists put forward three demands for their participation in a government: that a common minimum program be negotiated; that political parties commit to not disrupting the government until its term is up in 2 years; and that the unholy NC/CPN-UML/MPRF alliance be dissolved.
All political parties expressed support for this except the NC, which tried to continue the three party alliance. After a final intensive week of talks, a new government is finally being formed, involving all the major parties except for the NC, which has refused to join the consensus government.
On August 15, only the NC delegates voted against Prachanda as the Nepal's first prime minister.
But this is just the start of the challenge for the new leftist government.
The real challenge is going to be in instituting land reform, providing access to education and health care for the poor majority, implementing the poverty alleviation programs that they have promised, and dragging the desperately poor nation out of the feudal age.