Nepal President holds key meeting to end political crisis

Kathmandu: Nepal's President Ram Baran Yadav on Tuesday held a key meeting with top political leaders in a bid to end the political crisis over the formation of a new government, amid fears of a financial chaos in the country.

The country has been in political limbo since the June 30 resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, which has stalled Nepal's peace process and further delayed the annual budget, sparking fears of a financial crisis in the country.

Nepalese parties have been unable to elect a new leader despite a series of polls since Nepal quit under intense pressure from the Maoists.

Maoist chief Prachanda, Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala and CPN-UML president Jhala Nath Khanal were present in the meeting held at the Presidential House.

The president urged them to initiate political dialogue among the parties to build a consensus to end the political crisis in the country, according to sources close to Nepali Congress.

During the meeting today, Prachanda and Khanal asked Nepali Congress to withdraw 65-year-old Ram Chandra Poudyal from the Prime ministerial race as he has failed to garner a majority even after 12 rounds of election in a row.

However, Koirala told the leaders and the president that his party will not withdraw his party's candidate until there is a complete understanding on key political issues, including who will be the next prime minister.

Meanwhile, political parties have managed to find a common ground on nine of 11 contentious issues being discussed by the Constituent Assembly Committee on System of Governance.

The meeting has resolved nine of the 11 major disputes on drafting a new Constitution, according to Minister for Law and Justice Prem Bahadur Singh.

The taskforce of top political leaders, however, are yet agree on the new electoral system and whether to adopt the presidential or the Westminster model.

"We will enter into the issues of system of governance and electoral system in the next meeting," Singh said.

Maoists are pitching for an executive presidential system and unicameral parliament while Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML and other parties are for an executive prime ministerial system with ceremonial role for the head-of-state.

Prachanda and Khanal are members of the key task force, which was formed to expedite the drafting of a new constitution.

Even though the Constituent Assembly has set May 2011 as the new deadline for completing the task of framing a new constitution, the political parties remain deadlocked over the formation of a new government.

For an unprecedented 12th time in a row, Nepal's Parliament last week failed to elect a Prime Minister rejecting Poudyal.

He remains the sole candidate for the top post, but is adamant over not quitting the race despite the boycott of the process by Maoists and CPN-UML.

The next round of election has been scheduled for October 26.

The Nepal Maoist, who have 238 seats, CPN-UML with 109 MPs and the three main Terai-based Madhesi parties having nearly 80 lawmakers have been staying away from the election process as they want formation of a national government.

Nepali Congress has ruled out the possibility of forming the next government under the Maoists' leadership till the former rebels lay down their arms, integrate their combatants with the security forces and dissolve the paramilitary organisation of their youth wing, Young Communist League, so that the peace process could be completed.

Poudyal is the only candidate in the fray following the withdrawal of Prachanda after his deal with the CPN-UML on September 17 in a bid to facilitate the formation of a national consensus government.

Prachanda, the 55-year-old former Prime Minister, failed to get majority support in Parliament seven times in a row, forcing him to withdraw from the race.