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Nepal PM poll postponed, political parties set for budget deal

world Updated: Nov 15, 2010 19:26 IST
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Nepal's 17th run-off poll for a new prime minister was put off today with no clear winner expected in Parliament as in the previous series of elections, but the political parties inched closer to a deal to approve the delayed budget amid fears of a financial crisis.

Sixty-five-year-old Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudyal, the sole candidate who is adamant over not quitting the prime ministerial race, has failed to garner a majority in Parliament despite sixteen rounds of polls since the June 30 resignation of premier Madhav Kumar Nepal.

A meeting of Business Advisory Committee (BAC) in Parliament today decided to postponement the election to November 19. The BAC meeting held today decided to postpone the poll for the prime minister, Law Minister Prem Bahadur Singh was quoted as saying by my republica online, the website of Republica newspaper today.

As per Nepal's interim constitution, the election process should continue till a new leader is elected in the Parliament through a simple majority of 301 vote. The next BAC meeting will be held on November 19 when the new budget will be tabled in the Parliament, he said.

Earlier a key meeting of the three major political parties -- main opposition Unified CPN (Maoist), and the two largest parties in the caretaker government, Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML had decided to defer the futile election for a new leader.

The four-and-a-half months standoff has stalled the country's peace process and delayed the annual budget, bringing the nation on the brink of a financial crisis.

The caretaker government aims to push the annual budget later this week amid warnings that it is running out of money, finance ministry officials said. They have warned that the country would face a severe crisis if the budget is not passed soon. According to the ministry, the budget currently available in state coffers is not sufficient even for the essential services for the month of November.

The Parliament approved an interim budget to allow the caretaker government to run day-to-day activities for four months and pay civil servants, but that expires tomorrow. Main opposition CPN-Maoist, which ended its decade-long civil war in 2006, is the single largest party with 238 seats, while Nepali Congress (NC) has 114 members in the House.

The CPN-UML, the third largest party with a strength of 109 and the Madhesi alliance with the combined strength of some 80 lawmakers and other smaller parties have called for a national government. The Maoists, CPN-UML and the Madhesi alliance have been staying away from the election process as they want the formation of a national government. Subhash Nemwang, the Speaker of the Parliament, has stepped up consultations with leaders of various political parties to forge a consensus after he was ordered by the Supreme Court to intervene in the standoff over the election of a new leader and the budget.