Prachanda ready to withdraw from PM`s race for consensus govt

Last Updated: Thursday, August 12, 2010 - 20:37

Kathmandu: In a surprise move, Maoist
supremo Prachanda on Thursday agreed to withdraw from the prime
ministerial race if his Nepali Congress rival Ram Chandra
Poudyal also agrees to quit, according to a deal being worked
out by CPN-UML to end the six-week long political deadlock.

"The Maoist chairman Prachanda has agreed to the
proposal forwarded by CPN-UML to withdraw his candidacy for
the sake of national consensus if his rival candidate from
Nepali Congress also withdraws," Jhal Nath Khanal, the
president of the third larges party CPN-UML, which leads the
caretaker coalition, told agency.
The unexpected move by the Maoists comes even as they
have claimed the right to lead a new coalition by virtue of
being the single-largest party with 238 MPs in the 601-strong
Constituent Assembly.

The proposal comes ahead of the fifth round of voting
on August 18 in parliament to elect a new prime minister after
incumbent Madhav Kumar Nepal quit on June 30 amid intense
Maoists pressure.

Prachanda, Deputy Chairman Baburam Bhattarai and
senior leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha were present at the
meeting, he said.

The CPN-UML had forwarded the proposal during its
Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting yesterday, asking both
Prachanda and Poudyal to withdraw their candidacy.

"We are ready to hold open discussion on the option of
withdrawing candidacy of prime minister," Shrestha told
journalists after the meeting today.

After both the candidates withdraw from the contest,
we will try to form a national consensus government, he
underlined.

The CPN-UML will hold a crucial meeting with Nepali
Congress leaders tomorrow in a bid to forge a consensus to
form the next government, Shrestha said.

The CPN-UML has remained neutral in the four rounds of
Prime Ministerial elections and abstained from voting in order
to forge a national consensus to form a new government.

There is growing uncertainty in the country after the
parliament for the fourth time in just over a month failed to
elect a new premier. Prachanda and Poudyal were unable to
garner a simple majority in the 601-member Constituent
Assembly.
55-year-old Prachanda, a former Prime Minister,
managed to bag only 213 votes while 99 members opposed his
candidature in the poll, more than five weeks after incumbent
Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned following intense Maoist pressure.

Poudyal, 65, also failed to touch the magic figure of
301, receiving just 122 votes in favour and 245 against.

The country has been in political limbo since the
resignation of Nepal, who is currently heading a caretaker
government.

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.

The Assembly, which functions as the country`s interim
parliament, was elected in 2008 with a mandate to complete
Nepal`s post-war peace process and draft a new Constitution,
but could not finish the task within the stipulated two-year
timeframe.

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
Ram Baran Yadav over reinstatement of then army chief
Rukmangad Katwal who was sacked by the administration led by
the former rebels last year.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, August 12, 2010 - 20:37

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