Prachanda, Poudyal fail to get majority in Nepal

Uncertainty loomed over Nepal as Maoist supremo Prachanda and his Nepali Congress rival Ramchandra Poudyal failed to win a clear majority in the third round of run-off vote.

Kathmandu: Uncertainty loomed over Nepal
as Maoist supremo Prachanda and his Nepali Congress rival
Ramchandra Poudyal failed to win a clear majority in the third
round of run-off vote in Parliament today to elect a new prime
minister, deepening the political crisis in the country.

In his third attempt to become the new Prime Minister,
Prachanda failed to get majority support as he managed only
259 votes in 601-member parliament.

The Constituent Assembly, which also serves as the
interim parliament, also failed to elect Poudyal who
received?124 votes in his favour and 246 against.

During the voting today, which was delayed due to
last minute negotiations among the parties, 186 lawmakers
remained neutral and abstained from voting.

As the votes secured by Prachanda was less than 50
per cent of the total voters, his candidacy was rejected,
Subhash Nemwang, chairman of the Constituent Assembly, said.

He could not secure the required 50 per cent plus
votes necessary to get elected.

The Parliament has been adjourned with the Work
Management Committee of the Parliament set to decide on the
next meeting to elect the prime minister.

Prachanda received 259 votes in the election, which
was delayed for several hours today to give party leaders time
to broker a last-minute deal, while Poudyal won the support of
124 of the 599 members present in the Constituent Assembly.
Earlier today, the third largest party CPN-UML and the
UDMF alliance of four Terai-based Madhesi parties with 84
lawmakers decided to remain neutral and abstain from voting as
in the earlier two rounds.

"We have decided to remain neutral during today`s
voting," said Rajendra Mahato, Sadbhavana Party president and
Minister for Commerce. "As we needed more time for discussion,
we have decided to remain neutral," he added.

CPN?UML general secretary Ishwor Pokharel underlined
his party`s commitment to remain neutral in the voting.
We will abstain from voting today, U ML general
secretary Ishwor Pokharel told PTI.

Most of the other smaller parties also decided not to
caste their votes.

The UDMF alliance of four parties -- Madhesi People`s
Rights Forum (MPRF), MPRF Democratic, Terai Madhes Democratic
Party and Sadbhavana Party -- have maintained that they would
support the party that provides a clear roadmap to conclude
the peace process and?addresses demands of the community from
the southern Terai region, including greater economic and
political rights for them.

The pro-Terai parties argue that people in the
Madhesi-dominated southern plains have long been treated as
second-class citizens in Nepal, where hill-origin elites
dominate politics, the security forces and business. They have
demanded greater economic and political rights, including more
representation in the state structure.

However, both the major parties in the fray have
refused to give a clear commitment to the Madhesi parties on
declaring the southern plain as a single autonomous region.
The country has been in political limbo since the
June 30 resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who
is currently heading a caretaker government.

The Nepal Maoists, who ended their decade-long civil
war in 2006, have claimed the leadership of new government as
it is largest party in parliament with nearly 40 percent of
the seats.

58-year-old Prachanda had also lost the election on
July 23, getting only 241 votes in favour and 113 against. The
lawmakers had rejected him for the post in the July 21
election as well when he had bagged 242 votes in favour and
114 against, failing to touch the magic figure of 301.
Poudyal too crashed out of the race, receiving just
123 votes in favour and 243 against.

CPN-Maoist is the single-largest party with 238 MPs,
while Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have 114 and 109 seats
respectively in the Constituent Assembly, whose two-year term
was extended by one year on May 28.


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