Nepal Parl to hold fourth vote for new PM on Aug 6

Amid growing concern over the deepening constitutional crisis in Nepal, the Parliament will hold a fourth vote to try to elect a new prime minister.

Last Updated: Aug 03, 2010, 18:25 PM IST

Kathmandu: Amid growing concern over the
deepening constitutional crisis in Nepal, the Parliament will
hold a fourth vote to try to elect a new prime minister
following the failure of Maoist supremo Prachanda and his
Nepali Congress rival R C Poudyal to get a clear majority.

More than a month after the 22-party coalition led by
Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal collapsed, a third run-off
poll yesterday failed to elect a new leader, with both
Prachanda and 65-year-old Poudyal unable to get majority
support of the lawmakers in the 601-member Constituent
Assembly.
The deadlocked political parties will meet for the
fourth time in just over two weeks on Friday to elect a new
Prime Minister. The new election will be held on August 6,
according to Parliament secretariat.

As per the provisions in the interim constitution, the
election process will be repeated till one of the candidates
gets a clear majority support of 50 percent plus votes.

The country has been in political limbo since the
June 30 resignation of Nepal, who is currently heading a
caretaker government. 57-year-old Nepal quit amid intense
pressure from the Maoists to pave the way for the formation of
national government under its leadership.

The resulting leadership vacuum is causing growing
concern over the political stability in the country, which is
has struggled to recover from a decade-long civil war led by
the Maoist rebels that came to an end in 2006.

"The rules state that we have to keep doing this until
one candidate gets a majority," said parliament`s spokesman
Mukunda Sharma.

"It is up to the politicians to get us out of this
mess, but there seems to be a serious lack of honesty from
political parties towards the process," Sharma told reporters
after the third round of vote in parliament.
Political analysts have warned that a delay in forming
a new government could derail the 2006 peace process. "There
will be chaos. All the government`s plans and policies will be
affected," an analyst said.

In his third attempt to become the new Prime Minister,
Prachanda received 259 votes while Poudyal won the support of
124 of the 599 members present in the Assembly. Though
Prachanda won the highest number of votes, the Maoists chief
failed to secure the overall majority needed to form a new
government as 186 lawmakers remained neutral and abstained
from voting.

The third largest party CPN-UML and the UDMF alliance
of four Terai-based Madhesi parties with 84 lawmakers decided
to abstain from voting as in the earlier two rounds.

The Nepal Maoists, who ended their decade-long civil
war in 2006, have claimed the leadership of new government as
it is largest party in parliament with nearly 40 percent of
the seats.

The key alliance partners in the caretaker government,
Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, have ruled out the possibility of
forming the next government under the Maoists` leadership as
the former rebels have not yet laid down arms, managed their
combatants and dissolved their paramilitary organization the
Young Communist League.

Maoist leader Prachanda and his Nepali Congress rival
Poudyal have been locked in intense negotiations with smaller
parties to form a coalition government.

The UDMF alliance of four parties -- Madhesi People`s
Rights Forum (MPRF), MPRF ?Democratic, Terai Madhes Democratic
Party and Sadbhavana Party -- have maintained that they would
support the party that provides a clear roadmap to conclude
the peace process and addresses demands of the community from
the southern Terai region, including greater economic and
political rights for them.
Even as the two major parties in the fray have
accepted most of the demands of the UDMF alliance, they have
refused to give a clear commitment on declaring the southern
plain as a single autonomous region and mass recruitment of
the community members in the security forces.

CPN-Maoist is the single-largest party with 238 MPs,
while Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have 114 and 109 seats
respectively in the Constituent Assembly, whose two-year term
was extended by one year on May 28.

Nepal`s parliament was elected in May 2008 with a
two-year mandate to complete the country`s post-war peace
process and draft a new national constitution. But it has
failed to complete either task, hampered by disagreements
between the Maoists and their rivals.

Maoists, who joined mainstream politics in 2006 after
a decade-long insurgency, won the maximum seats in 2008
elections and briefly led the government before Prachanda
resigned as premier following differences with President
Ram Baran Yadav over the removal of then army chief Rukmangad
Katwal who was sacked by the Maoists supremo in May 2 last
year.

PTI