Prachanda, Poudyal defeated in PM polls for 5th time

Even after an unprecedented five rounds of vote, Nepal`s Parl failed to elect a new Prime Minister.

Updated: Aug 23, 2010, 18:02 PM IST

Kathmandu: Even after an unprecedented five rounds of vote, Nepal`s Parliament Monday failed to elect a new prime minister with Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda unable to muster simple majority in parliament.

Prachanda, who had entered the ring with the hope that he would be supported by the ethnic parties from the Terai plains, proved to have been deluded, garnering only 246 votes in the 599-member parliament.

The 55-year-old former revolutionary, who failed to win in the four earlier rounds though his Maoist party is the largest in parliament, had told the media he had been able to garner the support of the fourth largest group, a bloc of four ethnic or Madhesi parties from the Terai plains with 82 lawmakers.

However, the man who led a guerrilla war against the state successfully for 10 years, failed to triumph in the parliament vote with 111 MPs refusing to support him and 206 sitting neutral.

Prachanda, whose party has 236 MPs, needed only 64 more votes to become the new prime minister, a post lying vacant since Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned in June due to intense Maoist pressure.

But though winning the election in 2008, he now finds it impossible to win the vote in parliament as the Madhesi bloc largely abstained from voting as well as the third largest party, the communists, whose 109 lawmakers could have made a difference.

The communists, miffed at their candidate being out of the reckoning due to intra-party rivalry, did the same again Monday, saying the contestants had refused to heed their demands.

The demands, mostly targeted at the Maoists, had asked the former rebels to empty their cantonments harbouring nearly 20,000 fighters, dismantle their paramilitary units and return the public property captured during the "People`s War".

Angered by the protracted crisis, the other parties in parliament have threatened they would begin a protest movement and boycott parliament.

The protracted impasse caused President Ram Baran Yadav to express concern and ask the parties to create a consensus.

A new crisis looms close next month when the tenure of the UN agency helping in the peace process comes to an end.

The UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), which has been monitoring the arms and fighters of the Maoists` People`s Liberation Army, faces an uncertain future with the ruling parties and the army saying its tenure should not be extended.

Only the Maoists are pressing for it to stay on, threatening that the peace process will break down if it leaves Nepal.

The long crisis raises fresh doubts about Nepal`s ability to implement a new constitution next year.

It failed to do so this May and plunged the nation into an unprecedented crisis.