Nepal to hold fresh PM election on Feb 3

Kathmandu: Nepalese lawmakers will begin a fresh process next week to elect a new prime minister after 16 failed attempts for nearly seven months, as the squabbling political parties were unable to meet a January 26 deadline set by the president to put in place a national government.

President Ram Baran Yadav directed the Parliament to begin a fresh process for the election of a Prime Minister on the basis of majority vote as political parties had failed to hammer out a deal to form a consensus government.

Parliament`s Business Advisory Committee, which runs the prime ministerial poll, announced that the parties would have to file nominations by February 2, following which fresh elections would be held February 3.

The second and third round of election, if required, will be held on February 5 and 6 respectively, it said.

A key meeting of three main political parties — the main opposition UCPN (Maoist) and the two ruling alliance partners CPN (UML) and the Nepali Congress — yesterday ended in a deadlock as they failed to agree on a consensus prime minister.

President Yadav`s second deadline to form a national consensus government expired yesterday.

The Maoists have staked claim to lead the next coalition during the meeting of the three parties as they were the largest party in the House.

Maoist chief Prachanda insisted that his party should be given the chance to form the government as the former rebels have now put their combatants under the supervision of the Special Committee of major political parties after the exit of the UN peace mission.

A candidate must garner the support of more than 50 per cent of the 601-seat Constituent Assembly to win. However, no party holds a majority in the legislature, and the deadlocked parties have been unable to form a coalition.

On January 25, a five-member parliamentary committee headed by Ek Raj Bhandari approved key changes in the rules for electing a prime minister that would make it mandatory for lawmakers to vote for a new leader in the House.

Under the recommendations, lawmakers will not be allowed to abstain, attendance will be mandatory, and the Parliamentary speaker will be able to disqualify candidates after three failed rounds of voting.