Prachanda, Poudel defeated in PM election

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - 20:41

Kathmandu: Nepal`s lawmakers on Wednesday failed to
elect a new Prime Minister, rejecting Maoist chief Prachanda
and his NC rival Ram Chandra Poudel for the key post in an
election that required candidates to secure simple majority in
the 601-member Parliament, forcing a re-poll on Friday.

58-year-old Prachanda received 242 votes in favour and
114 against, failing to reach the magic figure of 301 to win
the poll, weeks after Madhav Kumar Nepal of CPN-UML resigned
as Prime Minister under Maoist pressure.
Four Madhesi parties, whose combined strength is 84,
along with some other smaller parties abstained from voting,
which started at 4 pm local time after a five-hour delay.

After ex-premier Prachanda`s defeat, lawmakers were asked
to vote for or against Nepali Congress candidate Ram Chandra
Poudel, 65, who too crashed out of the race, receiving just
124 votes in favour and 235 against.

CPM-UML`s Jhala Nath Khanal, 61, withdrew his candidature
at the last minute, despite Maoists` assurance that they would
support him in the election.

CPN-UML`s Nepal said that his party would try to forge
consensus with other major groups before the Friday re-poll
which was necessitated after Parliament failed to elect a new
Prime Minister.

Before the voting, Parliament Speaker Subash Nemwang
announced the names of the candidates and allowed lawmakers to
speak for or against them.

The country plunged into a political crisis last month
after Nepal`s resignation, following which major parties
failed to arrive at a consensus candidate for the post of
Prime Minister.

CPN-Maoist in the single-largest party with 238 MPs,
while Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have 114 and 109 seats
respectively in the Constituent Assembly.

Earlier in the day, the four Madhesi parties representing
Indian-origin community from the Terai region decided not to
vote in the election to the Prime Minister`s post.
"We have decided to remain absent during the voting as
all the candidates for the Prime Minister`s post have failed
to address our issues," said Rajendra Mahato, President of
Sadbhavana Party.

The grouping of four parties -- Madhesi Peoples Rights
Forum Nepal, Madhesi People`s Rights Forum Democratic, Terai
Madhes Democratic Party and Sadbhavana Party -- had asked the
candidates to address their issues for the cause of the
Madhesi people, draft the Constitution on time and complete
the peace process.

"As nobody has expressed commitment to our issues, we
have decided to remain out of voting," Mahato said.

After parties failed to form a national consensus
government as per the call made by President Ram Baran Yadav,
the process of forming a majority government started on July
12.

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`s
resignation as Premier following differences with President
Yadav over reinstatement of then army chief Rukmangad Kutyal
who was sacked by the administration led by the former rebels.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - 20:41

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