The leftist alliance that is likely to form Nepal’s new government wants to attract more Chinese investment, including reviving a cancelled dam project, according to a senior member of the group.
Leaders of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN–UML) said the new Nepalese government would maintain relations with both China and India, but called for less “micromanagement” from New Delhi.
Counting is still under way in the elections, but an alliance of the CPN-UML and the Nepal Communist Party-Maoist Centre has so far won 113 of the 165 seats in parliament decided by direct elections. The governing centrist Nepali Congress has won just 21.
The final elections results are expected to be released in the coming days, with CPN-UML chairman Khadga Prasad Oli tipped to become prime minister.
He called during the election campaign for a Chinese-built railway network to be expanded into Nepal and for more infrastructure projects to create jobs. Analysts say such moves to increase China’s influence in Nepal will trigger unease in the Indian government.
Oli was Nepal’s prime minister between October 2015 and August 2016, but he resigned after Maoists dropped out of a coalition government.
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Ishwor Pokhrel, general secretary of the CPN-UML, said that after taking power the new government would implement a 15-point joint communique signed by Oli and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in March 2016 that covered transportation, trade and financial cooperation.
The government will also approve infrastructure projects with China after a majority government is formed in mid-January, including railway projects, plus motorways and hydroelectric schemes such as the Budhi Gandaki dam.
The project was originally planned with state-owned China Gezhouba Group, but it was cancelled by the government on the eve of the elections.
The procurement process for the dam project will be studied again, but it is not certain if the contract will be given to China Gezhouba.