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Politics

Who is Sharma Oli?

Veteran communist leader rose from prison to prime ministership in Nepal

K.P. Sharma Oli lights a candle at an event in Kathmandu in 2016 marking the first anniversary of an earthquake in the capital that killed nearly 9,000 people. (Photo by Yuji Kuronuma)

NEW DELHI -- Born in the village of Terhathum, in eastern Nepal, K.P. Sharma Oli, 66, lost his mother when he was 4 years old.

He was raised by his grandmother and liked playing soccer and chess as a child. According to a local report, he "encouraged [his friends] to take up [chess] as it helped in brain development."

Influenced by Marxism-Leninism, Oli entered politics in 1966 to oppose Nepal's no-party monarchy, which held sway at the time.

In 1970, he became a member of the Communist Party of Nepal. He was arrested the following year on charges of involvement in an armed uprising. He was arrested again in 1973 and imprisoned for 14 years. After his release in 1987, Oli became a member of the central committee of the Communist Party of Nepal -- United Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML).

Oli became a popular politician as part of a democratic movement in 1990 that brought in a new constitution and instituted popular sovereignty. The following year he ran for election from a constituency of the southeastern district of Jhapa, becoming a member of parliament.

Although he lost one parliamentary election in 2008, he continued his political career and was later re-elected. He served the cabinet as home minister in 1994-95 and as deputy prime minister and foreign minister in 2006-07.

He became prime minister in 2015, soon after an earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people.

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