Ballot battle in Nepal parliament Sunday for new PMAugust 25th, 2011 - 4:27 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, Aug 25 (IANS) After failing to choose a consensus prime minister within the 10 days’ time given by President Ram Baran Yadav, Nepal’s warring parties will now hold a ballot battle in parliament Sunday to elect a successor to caretaker premier Jhala Nath Khanal.
“The election will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday,” parliament spokesman Mukunda Sharma told IANS.
The 601-seat parliament will elect a new prime minister on the basis of simple majority. Since none of the two contenders - the Maoists and the Nepali Congress - enjoys majority, frantic negotiations have begun to cobble possible coalitions.
The race will open with a surprise. While the Maoists are fielding their deputy chief, former finance minister Baburam Bhatarrai, the Nepali Congress withdrew its earlier nominee, three-time former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, in a new development.
Instead, now it is back in the fray with its veteran parliament party leader Ram Chandra Poudel.
In the past too, Poudel had been the party’s candidate for the unprecedented 17 rounds of election that were held over seven months as the warring parties failed to reach an agreement.
This time however, parliament has moved to prevent another endless round of jousting.
The amended rule for holding the prime ministerial election will now allow only three rounds of polling.
It also says no lawmaker will be allowed to abstain from voting, a key factor that resulted in the voting fiascos last time.
Though the Maoists are the largest party in parliament, the Nepali Congress, despite being the second largest, was strengthened Thursday with the third largest party, the communists, saying they were “positive” about supporting the Nepali Congress.
Ten other fringe parties have an alliance with the communist and have said they will not allow the Maoists to come to power as long as they retain their guns and guerrilla army.
On the other hand, the Maoists had been getting positive responses from the bloc of ethnic parties from the Terai plains, who are the fourth largest group in the house.
Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda is expected to make a surprise announcement about his People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which has over 19,000 fighters, in a bid to garner support for Sunday’s vote.
The Maoists have been resisting demands to discharge the PLA even five years after signing a peace accord and ending their decade-old civil war. The refusal has been a major stumbling block to the peace process and the promulgation of a new constitution.
Irrespective of whichever party wins Sunday’s election, an elected prime minister bodes ill for Nepal. Two earlier prime ministers, elected on the basis of majority, were forced to within two years.
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- UN concern as Nepal's government formation deadline ends - Aug 21, 2011
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- Nepal government totters as biggest ally threatens to quit - Jan 10, 2011
- Nepal braces for another battle of ballot - Aug 24, 2011
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- Nepal premier poll crashes for ninth time - Sep 30, 2010
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