Nepal parliament elects new prime minister

Kathmandu - Nepal's parliament on Tuesday elected an unopposed three-time former prime minister to the top post once again, the tenth time in just over a decade the leadership has changed hands in the Himalayan nation.

Sher Bahadur Deuba, a wily political veteran, stood unopposed in the parliamentary election having struck a deal with his predecessor that some criticised as being undemocratic.

Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal -- who resigned a fortnight ago after just ten months as prime minister -- had agreed to stand aside for Deuba once long-awaited local polls had been held in Nepal.

"I announce that respected member Sher Bahadur Deuba... has been elected to the post of Nepal's prime minister," said Parliament Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar, addressing parliament during a live television broadcast.

Deuba's centre-right Nepali Congress struck an uneasy alliance with the Maoists last August on the condition Dahal would hand over power once local elections had been held.

The first phase of those polls -- the first held in 20 years -- were staged last month in three of Nepal's seven districts. The second round of voting has been delayed twice, but did not impede Deuba's appointment.

Nepal's revolving door politics has seen the three largest parties cycle through the premiership since 2006, when a peace deal was struck to end a lengthy Maoist insurgency against government forces.

"The manner of his (Deuba's) rise for the fourth time does not bode well because it has not been a democratic process," said Kunda Dixit, the editor of the Nepali Times newspaper.

Seventy-year-old Deuba takes the helm for the fourth time as Nepal enters the final stages of a drawn-out peace process that birthed a new constitution and promises for broad elections.

The new constitution, signed in 2015, mandated that local elections must be followed by polls at provincial and national level no later than January 2018.

This process has been hindered by the Madhesi, a minority group living along the border with India who have vowed to obstruct the polls unless the constitution is amended to give them a larger political voice.

The proposed changes, which would see Nepal's boundaries redrawn to give the lowland Madhesi greater representation, is fiercely opposed by the main opposition party.

But in a speech to parliament, Deuba assured lawmakers the Madhesi's demands would be met and elections proceed as planned.

"The priority now is the second phase of election. It will be conducted as scheduled. I want to assure you that all the three elections -- local, provincial and national -- will be held as planned," he said.