Nepal parliament voting to choose next PM put off until Monday


New Delhi : Nepal’s parliament has delayed a crucial fifth voting to choose the country’s next Prime Minister until Monday amid continued political logjam which has left a vacuum in the Himalayan nation.

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The key vote scheduled to be held this afternoon was put off until August 22, as the contesting rival parties – the Maoists and the Nepali Congress – failed to break the deadlock over overtures that they drop their candidates to enable formation of a National Government.

Though the reason cited for postponing the runoff was that the lawmakers wanted to mourn the death of a sitting Maoist member who died on Saturday.

The parties wanted more time to make the two frontrunners, Maoist Prachanda and R C Poudyal of the Nepali Congress to stand down.

Either of the two have failed to secure a simple majority in five rounds of polling in a House of 601 members, more than six weeks after former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal stood down under pressure of the Maoists.

A meeting between the Constituent Assembly chairman Subash Chandra Nembang with the chief whips of the main political parties – UCPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, decided to postpone the runoff vote to August 22.

“As per the parliamentary procedure and request of Maoist chief whip Bogati, a decision was made to put off the PM’s runoff by four days,” Laxman Ghimire, Nepali Congress chief whip, told the media.

The Parliament will pass a condolence resolution in memory of Yadav.

The continued deadlock in the landlocked country comes even as the Terai-based Madhesi alliance announced a shutdown in their region to impress upon the political parties to form a National Government.

But there seems to be no letup among the main contestants, Prachanda and Poudyal, to stand down. Hectic consultations were under way among major political parties, with the Nepali Congress and UCPN-Maoist trying to woo the CPN-UML and the Madhesi parties.

The UCPN-Maoist, which is largest single party in the House, has claimed the right to form a new government under its leadership.

The Madhesi front of four parties — Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF), MPRF–Democratic, Terai Madhes Democratic Party and Sadbhavana Party — and most other smaller parties had earlier planed to abstain from voting.

On August 6, lawmakers failed in their fourth bid to elect a new premier, with Prachanda and Poudyal failing to secure a simple majority.

55-year-old Prachanda, a former Prime Minister, managed to bag only 213 votes while 99 members opposed his candidature in the voting in the 601-seat parliament.

Poudyal, 65, also failed to touch the magic figure of 301, receiving just 122 votes in favour and 245 against, forcing Nemwang to announce August 18 as the date for the fifth round of election.