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Old faces in new Nepal PM poll battle

world Updated: Feb 02, 2011 17:48 IST
Utpal Parashar

Nepal will start a fresh process to elect the next prime minister on Thursday. But it will be the same old faces battling for the post except for a new candidate from Madeshi parties.

Despite 16 rounds of failed voting in the previous poll and murmurs to look for alternatives, the three main parties--Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (UML) and Maoists stuck with the same names.

So it will again be NC leader Ram Chandra Poudel, Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal and CPN (UML) chairman Jhalanath Khanal locking horns to win majority votes from lawmakers.

The only new face this time around is Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachchadhar, president of Madeshi Janadhikar Forum (Loktantrik) who filed his nomination at the last minute.

The Madhesi leader claims to enjoy support of 11 fringe parties including those from the Terai plains that have 142 lawmakers in the 601-member parliament.

“Only a Nepali Congress-led government can complete the peace process and draft a democratic constitution. Hence, I ask all parties to support my candidature,” said Poudel after filing his nomination papers.

Khanal who withdrew from the previous race before the first round of voting also exuded confidence of a win.

None of the three parties have the required numbers to get the 300 votes needed and are banking on support of others including the Madhes-based parties to tilt the balance in their favour.

Meetings are underway among all parties including the fringe players with few seats to ensure a win and prevent the ongoing impasse from continuing.

The earlier process ended last month after lone candidate Poudel withdrew. But with the parties again failing to arrive at any consensus candidate for the PM’s post, a fresh round of voting will begin on Thursday.

Unlike the earlier poll, voting for the fresh poll will take place with amended guidelines, which are deemed more result-oriented.

Lawmakers will not be allowed to abstain or remain neutral and there will be simultaneous voting for all the candidates.

If no candidate secures majority votes even after three rounds of voting, the process will be call off and a fresh one initiated.

Nepal has been without an effective government since July last year.

The political deadlock has affected the peace process and drafting of the new constitution—both of which have to be completed within May 28 this year.