Koirala readies to quit Nepal PM’s official residence

August 14th, 2008 - 2:40 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Aug 14 (IANS) After deposed king Gyanendra’s exit from the Narayanhity royal palace, it is now Nepal’s caretaker Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s turn to quit his official residence to make way for a new successor. Koirala, who became prime minister in April 2006 after the fall of King Gyanendra’s regime, will leave the prime minister’s official residence in Baluwatar Saturday.

His move signifies that he will not contest the poll for premiership Friday that is expected to be a duel between his Nepali Congress party and the Maoists.

The 83-year-old will move into his nephew Dr Shashank Koirala’s residence in Maharajgunj.

Dr Koirala is the son of Koirala’s eldest brother, the late B.P. Koirala, who was the first elected premier of Nepal. Dr Koirala is also the only member of the Koirala clan besides his uncle to have made it to the constituent assembly after the April election.

The former rebels, who won the April election but lost the presidential poll last month, are hoping it will be third time lucky for them Friday when their supremo Prachanda himself will fight for the top job.

While the Maoists Thursday confirmed the name of their candidate, the Nepali Congress is yet to name its man.

Though initially a section of Nepali Congress leaders had asked Koirala to contest, now it seems either Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat or Peace and Reconstruction Minister Ram Chandra Poudel could be the surprise candidates.

A third name doing the rounds is that of former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who was sacked twice by Gyanendra for failing to hold elections.

The two other major parties, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), are likely to abstain from pitching a candidate. However, their support is crucial to win the election, in which the contestants have to seek simple majority.

The fifth largest party, the Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP), headed by former Nepali Congress minister Mohanta Thakur, has indicated it will support the Maoists.

TMLP leader Hriadeysh Tripathi Thursday warned at a media interaction in south Nepal that a new government without the Maoists will lead to strife and disruption.

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