Nepal's Parliament elected the leader of the country's Communist Party, K.P. Sharma Oli, as the country’s new prime minister. He comes to office amid high hopes that he can mend things in the country, which is ridden by political instability and still in the midst of post-earthquake reconstruction.
Oli, a former radical communist who spent 14 years in jail for seeking to topple an autocratic monarchy, is the first prime minister elected under Nepal’s new, controversial constitution, adopted in September.
One of many challenges the new leader faces is to accommodate Nepal’s ethnic minority groups, mainly the Madhesis and Tharus, who have expressed outrage over the new constitution. They say the new charter plans to cut through their ancestral lands, including parts of India, and will limit their local autonomy.
The discontent has sparked violent protests, killing 40 people in clashes between police and protesters.
Oli addressed the issue in his opening speech, saying, "I know I’m seen as anti-Madhes, anti-Tharu, and called intolerant. I'll prove the allegations wrong by actions I will take."
The local tensions have also spilled over into India. Nepal accuses its neighbor of imposing a blockade on the country as way to intervene in its domestic affairs. The blockade has cut off essential fuel supplies to Nepal, although India denies the allegations.
Difficult times ahead for #Nepal. Dignity does not come at a small price, not for a small country.— Rubeena Mahato (@rubeenaa) October 11, 2015
The new prime minister is also expected to put Nepal back on its feet after a devastating earthquake killed over 8,800 people and destroyed close to 600,000 homes in April.
"I will work alongside everybody to implement the constitution, repair the damage inflicted by the earthquake and address the hardships raised by the Indian blockade," Oli said.