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Nepal's Maoists confident leader will be new PM

Nepal's former Maoist rebels say they are confident they will have sufficient support in parliament to elect their leader prime minister when a vote is held on Friday, although an analyst said the result remained in doubt.

world Updated: Jul 22, 2010 15:45 IST
AP

Nepal's former Maoist rebels say they are confident they will have sufficient support in parliament to elect their leader prime minister when a vote is held on Friday, although an analyst said the result remained in doubt.

A fresh vote for a new leader was ordered by House Speaker Subash Nemwang after none of three candidates including the Maoist chief managed to get a majority vote in the 601-seat parliament on Wednesday.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is hoping to return to power, a year after a coalition government it led collapsed. It was succeeded by a coalition led by Madhav Kumar Nepal, who resigned as prime minister in June after Maoist protests against him.

The Himalayan nation has been in political limbo since then, led by a caretaker government, still headed by the outgoing premier.

Narayankaji Shrestha, a senior leader of the Maoists, said on Thursday that smaller political parties, which he did not name, have agreed to support the Maoist candidate for prime minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

During the voting on Wednesday, Dahal received 242 votes, while his chief rival, Ram Chandra Poudel of the Nepali Congress party, garnered 124 votes.

Shrestha said they were considering asking Poudel to withdraw and join a Maoist-led national government that would include most of the parties in parliament. But the Nepali Congress showed no signs of backing down.

Nepali Congress spokesman Arjun Narsingh said negotiations were under way with other political parties for support and said he believed his party would come out as the winners.

"We have helped all these parties several times in the past and now it is their turn to return the favor," Narsingh said. Analysts gave the advantage to the Maoists, who hold the most seats in parliament.

"Though the Maoists have a better position and a good chance of winning they still have a tough fight. It is still unpredictable at this point," said Lokraj Baral, an independent political analyst.

The Maoists gave up their decade-long insurgency in 2006 and joined the political mainstream. They currently hold the most seats in parliament. Their government, elected in 2008, fell in May 2009 amid a dispute over incorporating former fighters into the military.

First Published: Jul 22, 2010 15:42 IST