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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