Apex court censure makes Nepal Parliament review PM`s poll

Parliament held 16 rounds of polls since July to elect a new PM, but failed.

Kathmandu: On the eve of the 17th round of the Prime Ministerial Election, Nepal`s Parliament on Sunday called the top seven parties to an urgent meeting to review the controversial poll after being censured by the apex court for failing to give the country a new government even after four months.

Subhas Chandra Nembang, the Parliament chairman, called Sunday`s meeting with the ruling parties as well as the opposition, including the Maoists, to find a way out of the farcical election amidst speculation that Monday`s vote would be put off.

Nembang, facing public criticism for allowing the election to go on endlessly even though there was only one contestant left in the fray, was forced to call the review meeting after Nepal`s Supreme Court said either the election process should be amended or the lone contestant be declared the winner.

Last week, the apex court issued the directive after a public interest suit was brought by two lawyers.

The suit came after Parliament held 16 rounds of election since July to elect a new prime minister, but failed.

Nepal`s unique election procedure says that to win the vote, a candidate must win a simple majority in the 601-seat house.

However, with the Maoists and the communists, two of the largest parties, abstaining from voting, it became impossible for a contestant to garner 300-odd votes.

The Maoists and the communists decided to sit on the fence after they were forced to withdraw their candidates, the former due to a vote-buying scandal and the latter due to a feud within the party.

The Supreme Court has recommended that either the remaining contestant, Ram Chandra Poudel, be declared the winner or the election process be amended.

While the Maoists and communists have been clamouring for a change in the process so that they can re-enter the ring, Poudel`s Nepali Congress party is refusing to agree, fearing an opportunistic poll alliance between the Maoists and the communists that can help them come to power.

So far, it had been thought that the election procedure cannot be amended till the Nepali Congress withdrew from the fray and agreed to a change.

However, if it rejects the call for a change, it will doom the country to an endless vote without reaching any conclusion.

The protracted stalemate threatens to bankrupt the caretaker government that has been unable to pass the budget due to Maoist opposition.

The Maoists have threatened to block the budget till the ruling parties allow them to lead the government or reach a power-sharing agreement.

The World Bank has predicted that Nepal`s government will run out of money after Monday.