Nepal to hold 5th round of parliament voting for PM on Aug 23

Nepalese lawmakers will meet on August 23 for the crucial fifth round of Parliament vote for a new prime minister, further prolonging a leadership vacuum in the country.

Last Updated: Aug 18, 2010, 20:37 PM IST

Kathmandu: Nepalese lawmakers will meet
on August 23 for the crucial fifth round of Parliament vote
for a new prime minister, further prolonging a leadership
vacuum in the country following the failure of Maoist supremo
Prachanda and his Nepali Congress rival to garner a majority.

More than seven weeks after the 22-party coalition led
by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal collapsed, the planned
fifth run-off poll today was not expected to throw up a clear
winner in the 601-member Constituent Assembly, which acts as
the country`s interim parliament.

Parliament Business Advisory Committee today scheduled
the fifth round of the election of Prime Minister at 3 p.m. on
August 23.
Subash Chandra Nembang, the Constituent Assembly
chairman and the speaker of the Parliament, announced the
formal decision about the postponement of the election today.

"The election slated for this afternoon has been
postponed because a member of the parliament died last week,"
a parliament secretariat official told the media.

Though the reason cited for postponing the runoff
today was that the lawmakers wanted to mourn the death of
sitting Maoist member Ram Kumari Yadav, sources said that
parties wanted more time to make the two frontrunners,
Prachanda and R C Poudyal stand down.

Both the candidates have failed to secure a simple
majority in four rounds of polling.

The continuing deadlock in the land locked country
comes even as the Terai-based Madhesi alliance announced a
shutdown in their region to impress upon the political parties
to form a national government.

But there seems to be no letup among the main
contestants to stand down. Hectic consultations were under way
among major political parties, with the Nepali Congress and
UCPN-Maoist trying to woo the CPN-UML and the Madhesi parties.
The UCPN-Maoist, which is largest single party in the
House, has claimed the right to form a new government under
its leadership.

The Madhesi front of four parties with 84 lawmakers --
Madhesi People`s Rights Forum (MPRF), MPRF?Democratic, Terai
Madhes Democratic Party and Sadbhavana Party -- and most other
smaller parties favour a national government.

The country has been in political limbo for over seven
weeks following the resignation of Nepal on June 30 amid
intense Maoists` pressure. Nepal agreed to step down to pave
the way for a new power-sharing government in a deal to secure
the support of the opposition Maoist party for an extension of
parliament`s term.

CPN-Maoist, which ended its decade-long civil war in
2006, is the single largest party with 238 seats in the
Constituent Assembly, while Nepali Congress has 114 members in
the House whose two-year term was extended by one year on May
28.

On August 6, lawmakers failed in their fourth bid to
elect a new premier, with Prachanda and Poudyal failing to
secure a simple majority.

55-year-old Prachanda, a former Prime Minister,
managed to bag only 213 votes while 99 members opposed his
candidature in the poll in Parliament.

Poudyal, 65, also failed to touch the magic figure of
301, receiving just 122 votes in favour and 245 against,
forcing Nemwang to announce August 18 as the date for the
fifth round of election.

Maoists, who joined mainstream politics in 2006, won
the maximum seats in 2008 elections and briefly led the
government before Prachanda`s resignation as premier following
differences with President Ram Baran Yadav over the firing of
the then army chief Rukmangad Katwal in May 2009.

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.

Political analysts have warned that a delay in forming
a new government could derail the 2006 peace process.

PTI