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Nepali Congress candidate likely to be elected new President as Maoists suffer setback


New Delhi : The Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) Maoists suffered a major setback ahead of the Presidential polls as two other major parties decided to support Nepali Congress’ (NC) candidate Ram Baran Yadav for the top post elections for which were underway Saturday.

The Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF), the fourth largest party in the Constituent Assembly (CA), decided to break its alliance with the CPN-Maoist to support, along with the CPN-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), the Nepali Congress candidate Yadav, as the voting got underway in the 594-member CA today, news agency Press Trust of India reported from Katmandu.

The NC and CPN-UML also decided to support the candidature of MPRF candidate Paramananda Jha for the post of Vice President. The three parties have a combined strength of 274 and with the support of other smaller parties they may cross the 300-mark in the CA. Support of 298 MPs is necessary to win the Presidential elections. The CPN-Maoists have 226 MPs in the CA.

“We will cross the magic number of 298 to elect the President. We have also received support from smaller parties,” NC Vice President Gopalman Shrestha told the news agency.

Earlier, Maoists’s candidate Ram Raja Prasad Singh was expected to win the election after MPRF parties had promised to support him.

The Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, the second and third largest parties respectively after CPN (Maoists) in the CA, however, decided to enter into an alliance with MPRF and other groups, to prevent the former rebels from having the first president of Republic of Nepal.

Now there is a direct contest for the post of President between Yadav and Maoist candidate Ram Raja Prasad Singh after CPN-UML’s Ram Prit Paswan withdrew his candidature. Both the candidates are of Indian-origin.

The CPN Maoists had earlier rejected outgoing Prime Minister G P Koirala’s name proposed by the NC for the post of President and had assured support to CPN-UML’s former general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal, a promise they did not maintain later.
CPN-UML leader Bamdev Gautam told the news agency that the Maoists have betrayed the party and supported a new candidate.

The voting was taking place at the International Convention Centre at Nayabaneshwor for the posts of President and Vice President, the news agency said.

After the election of the President, the process of new government formation will begin. President will be the head of the state and the Prime Minister will be the executive head. A two-third majority in CA would be required to impeach the President.

Nepal was declared a secular republic on May 28, when the first meeting of the CA abolished the 239-year-monarchy in the Himalayan state. The CA polls were held on April 10, following which CPN-Maoists emerged as the single largest party.

A nationwide protests had forced the then King Gyanendra to surrender power in April 2006. Thereafter, the seven-party-alliance ruled Nepal. Maoists, who joined the interim government last year after a decade-long insurgency, compelled the interim parliament to declare Nepal a republic with the provision that the formal announcement would be made after the CA polls. The elections to the CA dealt the final blow to monarchy.

Kings in Nepal began to lose power in 1990 when a pro-democracy agitation forced the then King Birendra to lift the ban on political parties and become a constitutional monarch. A democratically elected prime minister ruled the country thereafter.

Birendra’s successor and his brother King Gyanendra, however, seized absolute power in 2005 with Army support and ruled for 14 months.