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Nepal parties gear up for re-election

world Updated: Jul 20, 2008 22:34 IST
Anirban Roy

Failing to bag a clear majority in Saturday’s presidential election, the Nepali Congress and the Maoists leaders on Sunday worked overtime to garner support of the smaller political parties.

As per the decision of the Constituent Assembly, the run-off presidential election would be held at 8am on Monday as neither the Nepali Congress candidate Ram Baran Yadav nor the Maoist candidate Ram Raja Prasad Singh could secure 298 votes, the magic figure to get elected in the 594-member assembly. Yadav secured 294 votes, while Prasad’s tally was 284.

According to election rules, the two candidates securing the highest number of votes, if none of the candidates garner a clear majority, or 298 votes, must face a run-off.

The new republic, however, elected its first-ever vice-president with Madhesi Janadhikar Forum’s candidate Paramananda Jha being elected to the post.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who is also the president of Nepali Congress, on Sunday directed his party leaders to educate the members of the Constituent Assembly to avoid cancellation of ballots.

Twenty-five votes were cancelled during counting for the presidential election on Saturday. “Every vote is precious for us now, and we cannot let the votes get cancelled,” Arjun Narsing KC, spokesperson of the Nepali Congress, said.

Koirala also directed the leaders of the party to persuade the 16 members (of various political parties) who boycotted the presidential election on Saturday, to cast their votes during the re-poll.

Five from Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, four each from Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Nepal) and National People’s Front, two from Communist Party of Nepal (Unified) and one from Nepali Congress had abstained from casting their votes.

Senior members of the Madheshi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) held a meeting of its parliamentary party members as it has been accused of cross-voting for the presidential election. As per the agreement on Saturday, the MJF members were supposed to vote for the Nepali Congress candidate Ram Baran Yadav.

It has been reported that some of the MJF members may have voted for the Maoist-sponsored presidential candidate Ram Raja Prasad Singh.

The senior Maoists leaders on Sunday also held a series of meetings to workout the party’s new plan during the run up to the presidential in view of the changing political equations.

Maoist chief Prachanda also held discussions with the Terai-Madhesh Democratic Party and Sadbhawana Party. Both the Terai-based political parties on Saturday had voted for the Maoist’s candidate Ram Raja Prasad Singh.