Home International Nepal PM poll deferred to Monday

Nepal PM poll deferred to Monday

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : Nepal’s parliament officials said the election to choose a new prime minister, earlier scheduled for Wednesday, has now been deferred to Aug 23, following an agreement by the three major parties.

The Maoists, the largest party in parliament, sought the postponement on the ground that they would be holding a programme Wednesday in the memory of Ram Kumari Yadav, a party leader from the Terai plains and a lawmaker who died last week in an accident.

However, the more compelling reason was the former rebels’ failure to reach an understanding with the other parties and the fear that the fifth round of election would also prove to be a fiasco, triggering more public anger and ridicule.

The other contender for the prime minister’s post, the Nepali Congress party, is in an even greater predicament since it needs the support of at least two more parties to win the election but so far has not been able to cut any ice.

Besides the Nepali Congress, the third largest party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist also agreed to the postponement since it is keen to enter the fray itself.

It will be nearly two months since Nepal’s Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned under Maoist pressure June 30.

Since then, the Himalayan republic is yet to get a new premier. Despite four rounds of election, none of the contenders – Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel – managed to get the support of half the lawmakers in the 601-member parliament mandatory to form the new government.

The fiasco was partly due to the communists sitting neutral and threatening to do so Wednesday as well as also a bloc of four parties from the terai plains who have been following the communists.

The communists have asked both contestants to withdraw their nominations so that a new alliance among the major parties can be worked out with them putting their hat in the ring once more.

However, Poudel’s party has refused on the ground that since it supported the communist government in the past, it was entitled to their backing. After the failure of both the Maoists and communists to take the peace process forward, it says it should be allowed to have its turn at forming the new government.

The Maoists, realising the contest could go on endlessly without any side winning, say they are ready to withdraw from the race provided it is guaranteed that Poudel will too.

Meanwhile, a dissident Nepali Congress leader and former home minister Khum Bahadur Khadka is asking for parliament to be dissolved and a new election to be held, saying the house had failed the country.

Some minor parties have also been making the same demand.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at [email protected])