South Asia

New Nepal PM Baburam Bhattarai pledges to secure peace

Baburam Bhattarai being sworn in on 29 August 2011
Image caption The new prime minister says that he is determined to complete his mission

Nepal's newly elected Maoist Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has said he expects to complete the country's peace process within six months.

Speaking to the BBC, Dr Bhattarai said that he hoped to lead a consensus government to break political deadlock.

Uncertainty has plagued Nepal since the end of the Maoist rebellion in 2006.

The Maoists are the largest party in parliament but left power in 2009 in a row over how many of their fighters would be integrated into the army.

Since then, Nepal has been without an effective government as politicians squabbled over who should lead the country.

Maoist vice chairman Dr Bhattarai - who was sworn in on Monday - said he believed that his party had the ability to break this deadlock.

"Being the largest party it is our legitimate right to lead the government - though we wanted to form a consensus government, we have to go through a majoritarian practice," he said.

"Despite that, my effort will be to convert this government into a national unity government and then reach an agreement on all the major issues and complete our mission."

Dr Bhattarai also said that tackling poverty was crucial to Nepal.

"Our country and people are very poor and [the] problem of unemployment is very acute so we should focus on giving economic relief to the masses of the people - this should be my priority."

Dr Bhattarai said that he expected the issue of 19,000 former Maoist fighters who remain to be demobilised would be resolved within months, paving the way for agreement over a new democratic constitution.