Kathmandu: The CPN-UML, the second largest party in Nepal`s Constituent Assembly, on Friday demanded fresh elections for the post of President and Vice President.
"The parliament should start the process of electing a new President and Vice President at the earliest, as per the new mandate of the people," said CPN-UML Parliamentary Party leader KP Sharma Oli.
As the people had elected a new Constituent Assembly in November, the parliament too should elect a new President and Vice President, he said.
Speaking at a meeting of the Constituent Assembly, he cited examples of neighbouring countries like India and China, where the President is elected for a fixed term. He argued it was essential to elect a new President and Vice President to maintain democratic norms.
The CPN-UML`s demand is in sharp contrast to that of the Nepali Congress, the largest party in the 601-member Constituent Assembly which favours continuing with the incumbent President and Vice President until the Constituent Assembly drafts a new Constitution.
Political parties have committed themselves to promulgating a new Constitution within a year.
Oli said his party is ready to support the Nepali Congress if it moves forward to form a coalition government. However, the CPN-UML has asked the Nepali Congress to frame concrete proposals for power-sharing before seeking support to form a coalition under the leadership of Nepali Congress chief Sushil Koirala.
Negotiations are underway between the Nepali Congress and
CPN-UML for forming a new government. The CPN-UML is also considering the idea of nominating its own candidate for Prime Minister if the Nepali Congress is not ready to change incumbent President Ram Baran Yadav.
Yadav, who belongs to the Nepali Congress, was elected President some six years ago when Nepal was declared a republic by abolishing the monarchy.
The Interim Constitution has no provision for electing a new President unless the new Constitution is promulgated. Nepali Congress leader Prakash Sharan Mahat argued that "since there is no provision in the Interim Constitution to elect a new President, why should the President resign before promulgating the new Constitution?"
Nepali Congress, which has 194 seats in the Constituent Assembly, cannot form a government on its own without support from CPN-UML, UCPN-Maoist or other smaller parties.
The parliament has published a schedule for electing the new President and the date for electing the Prime Minister is February 10.
Sushil Koirala has been proposed as the Nepali Congress` prime ministerial candidate. The CPN-UML has not yet announced its candidate.
But if the two parties fail to settle the issue of electing a new President, CPN-UML leader Oli is expected to field a candidate against Koirala.
The UCPN-Maoist has not yet indicated whom it would support. The party has also said it would rather sit in the opposition and concentrate on drafting the new Constitution.