Amid growing concern over the deepening constitutional crisis in Nepal, the Parliament will hold a fourth vote to try to elect a new prime minister following the failure of Maoist supremo Prachanda and his Nepali Congress rival RC Poudyal to get a clear majority.
More than a month after the 22-party coalition led by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal collapsed, a third run-off poll on Monday failed to elect a new leader, with both Prachanda and 65-year-old Poudyal unable to get majority support of the lawmakers in the 601-member Constituent Assembly.
The deadlocked political parties will meet for the fourth time in just over two weeks on Friday to elect a new Prime Minister. The new election will be held on August 6, according to Parliament secretariat.
As per the provisions in the interim constitution, the election process will be repeated till one of the candidates gets a clear majority support of 50 percent plus votes.
The country has been in political limbo since the June 30 resignation of Nepal, who is currently heading a caretaker government. 57-year-old Nepal quit amid intense pressure from the Maoists to pave the way for the formation of national government under its leadership.
The resulting leadership vacuum is causing growing concern over the political stability in the country, which has struggled to recover from a decade-long civil war led by the Maoist rebels that came to an end in 2006.
"The rules state that we have to keep doing this until one candidate gets a majority," said parliament's spokesman Mukunda Sharma.
"It is up to the politicians to get us out of this mess, but there seems to be a serious lack of honesty from political parties towards the process," Sharma told reporters after the third round of vote in parliament.
Political analysts have warned that a delay in forming a new government could derail the 2006 peace process. "There will be chaos. All the government's plans and policies will be affected," an analyst said.
In his third attempt to become the new Prime Minister, Prachanda received 259 votes while Poudyal won the support of 124 of the 599 members present in the Assembly. Though Prachanda won the highest number of votes, the Maoists chief failed to secure the overall majority needed to form a new government as 186 lawmakers remained neutral and abstained from voting.
The third largest party CPN-UML and the UDMF alliance of four Terai-based Madhesi parties with 84 lawmakers decided to abstain from voting as in the earlier two rounds.