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Nepal fails to elect Prez

Nepal must wait a little longer to elect a president, the country may have become a republic, but it could not elect its first-ever president, reports Anirban Roy.

world Updated: Jul 19, 2008 23:26 IST
Anirban Roy

Nepal must wait a little longer to elect a president. The country may have become a republic, but it could not elect its first-ever president because none of the three candidates in the fray in Saturday’s election could get the required number of votes.

The Maoist-backed candidate, Ram Raja Prasad Singh, secured 284 votes while Nepali Congress general secretary Ram Baran Yadav obtained 294 votes. The magic number to get elected is 298.

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. A date for re-election will be announced soon.

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

The voting for the post of president and vice-president, which began at 11.15am, concluded half-an-hour behind schedule, at around 2.30pm. Out of the 594 members of the Constituent Assembly, only 578 members exercised their franchise.

Four minor parties — the Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Nepal), Rastriya Janamorcha and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified) — boycotted the election.

While Ram Raja Prasad Singh was projected to win the presidential election, a sudden shift in political equations on Saturday morning changed the entire scenario.

The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, at the last minute, queered the pitch for the Maoist candidate by striking a deal with the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (UML).

On Saturday morning, just ahead of the presidential election, the CPN (UML) and MJF agreed to back Nepali Congress presidential candidate Ram Baran Yadav while MJF’s Paramananda Jha got support for the vice- presidential slot. The CPN (UML) settled for the post of the Constituent Assembly chair.

The new alliance in Nepal’s Constituent Assembly was born after the Maoists refused to back both CPN (UML) and Nepali Congress candidates for the post of the president, and went ahead with its own candidate.

However, two other Terai-based parties: the Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party and Sadbhawana Party supported Maoist candidate Ram Raja Prasad Singh.