No clear cut winner in race for Nepal PM`s post amid deadlock

Nepali Congress and UCPN-Maoist, who are seeking to form the next government, are locked in a last-minute negotiations with other political parties in the fifth round of parliamentary vote for a new premier.

Updated: Aug 17, 2010, 20:35 PM IST

Kathmandu: Nepali Congress and
UCPN-Maoist, who are seeking to form the next government, are
locked in a last-minute negotiations with other political
parties, amid indications that Maoist chief Prachanda and
his rival R.C Poudyal are yet to garner a majority support in
the fifth round of parliamentary vote for a new premier.

As in the earlier four rounds of voting in the House,
the third largest party CPN-UML and the Terai-based Madhesi
alliance with 84 lawmakers, have decided to remain neutral
during the key House voting tomorrow.
Hectic consultations are under way among major
political parties ahead of election, with the Nepali Congress
and CPN-UML trying to woo the CPN-UML and the Madhesi parties.

During his meeting with caretaker Prime Minister
Madhav Kumar Nepal, Poudyal asked the CPN-UML not to remain
neutral and to extend support to the Nepali Congress, sources

However, Pradip Gyawali, a standing committee member
of CPN-UML, feels that the deadlock will continue tomorrow.

"The fifth Prime Ministerial run-off scheduled to be
held in Kathmandu on Wednesday is also unlikely to elect a new
Prime Minister," said Pradip Gyawali, standing committee
member of CPN-UML, at a function in the capital today.

"I don’t think that the fifth round of election for
the post of prime minister will yield any result," said

He underlined the need to "focus on the main agenda of
the peace process and completing the task of drafting the
constitution rather than focusing on who should lead the

Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Nepali Congress central
committee member, said political consensus is the main issue
at the moment and it cannot be brought about without managing
the arms and the armies of the Maoists.
Sitaula, who ruled out the possibility of Nepali
Congress withdrawing from the Prime Ministerial race, asked
the Maoists to sincerely implement the past agreements and
accords including the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord in order
to create an atmosphere of trust.

"There is still a possibility of forming a government
through democratic alliance and If Nepali Congress forms
government under its leadership it will also try to
accommodate the Maoists," he said.

The UCPN-Maoist, which is largest single party in the
House, has claimed the right to form a new government under
its leadership.

"If we get support from the CPN-UML then we will be in
a position to form a two third majority government," said Dev
Gurung, UCPN-Maoist standing committee member.

"If UML is not prepared to join a Maoist-led
government then we are also open to discuss about forming a
CPN-UML-led government with the support of the Maoists," he

Gurung asked the Nepali Congress to withdraw its
candidate as there is little possibility of forming a
government under its leadership.

The Maoists is the only party which is capable of
leading a government in this transitional period and drafting
the constitution on time, Gurung claimed.

The Madhesi front of four parties -- Madhesi People`s
Rights Forum (MPRF), MPRF?Democratic, Terai Madhes Democratic
Party and Sadbhavana Party -- and most other smaller parties
have decided not to caste their votes during the election.

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 the 601-strong Parliament.
Poudyal, 65, also failed to touch the magic figure of
301, receiving just 122 votes in favour and 245 against,
forcing Speaker Subhash Nemwang to announce August 18 as the
date for the fifth round of election.

The country has been in political limbo for over seven
weeks following the resignation of Nepal on June 30 amid
intense Maoists` pressure.

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

The Assembly, which functions as the country`s interim
parliament, has already failed four times in the last seven
weeks to elect a new prime minister for the troubled young
republic, which has been plagued by political instability in
recent years.