Nepal approves changes to end deadlock over PM election

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Shirish B. Pradhan

Kathmandu, Jan 25 (PTI) A top parliamentary panel inNepal today approved key changes in the rules for electing aprime minister that would make it mandatory to vote for a newleader in the House poll, amid a deadlock that has left thecountry without a government for nearly seven months.

A five-member parliamentary committee headed by Ek RajBhandari recommended making it mandatory to vote in amulti-cornered prime ministerial poll in the House.

Under the recommendations, lawmakers will not beallowed to abstain, attendance will be mandatory, and theParliamentary speaker will be able to disqualify candidatesafter three failed rounds of voting.

It has proposed termination of the election process ifthe House fails to elect a prime minister in the third roundof polls.

"We have proposed drastic changes to the laws inpractice for electing a prime minister. The new provisionsuggests compulsory voting in favour of one candidate if thereare more than one candidates," said Bhandari.

This would ensure that the meaningless elections forthe Prime Minister witnessed over the past few months wouldnot be repeated this time.

Nepal''s deadlocked political parties are unlikely toform a consensus government amid the failure to agree on a newprime minister, as a key deadline set by the President expirestomorrow.

A key meeting of three main political parties -- themain opposition UCPN (Maoist) and the two ruling alliancepartners CPN (UML) and the Nepali Congress -- endedinconclusively as they failed to agree on a consensus primeminister.

A second deadline set by President Ram Baran Yadav toform a national consensus government expires on January 26.

The Maoists have staked claim to lead the nextcoalition during the meeting of the three parties to find outa consensus prime ministerial candidate yesterday.

Maoist chief Prachanda insisted that his party shouldbe given the chance to form the government as the formerrebesl have now put their combatants under the supervision ofthe Special Committee of major political parties after theexit of the UN peace mission.

CPN-Maoist president Jhalanath Khanal said his partyis in favour of a non-Maoist led government, according tosources.

The Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala hasargued that it is the turn of his party, the second largestfaction in Parliament, to lead the new government as bothMaoist and CPN-UML have already had a chance to lead acoalition, sources said.

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