Maoist chief Prachanda exits from Nepal PM race

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu: Nepal’s opposition Maoist party Friday announced it was pulling out of the prime ministerial race with chief and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda withdrawing his candidature from the vote scheduled for Sep 26.

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The former guerrillas reached the decision after Prachanda, who had become Nepal’s first Maoist prime minister in 2008 with overwhelming majority, failed to garner simple majority in parliament despite seven rounds of vote started in July.

Maoist deputy chief and lawmaker Narayan Kaji Shrestha announced the decision after the Maoist top leadership held a meeting Friday with caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and senior members of his Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist.

Shrestha said neither the Maoists nor the communists would take part in the eighth round of election Sep 26.

With the two of the three largest parties boycotting the poll, it will mean Prachanda’s challenger, Ram Chandra Poudel of the Nepali Congress party, will not be able to win simple majority either.

Now the parties are likely to begin fresh negotiations either to form a government on the basis of national consensus or change the election process.

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