Nepal''s deadlocked parties to hold fresh PM election on Feb 3

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Shirish B. Pradhan

Kathmandu, Jan 27 (PTI) Nepalese lawmakers will begina fresh process next week to elect a new prime minister after16 failed attempts for nearly seven months, as the squabblingpolitical parties were unable to meet a January 26 deadlineset by the president to put in place a national government.

President Ram Baran Yadav directed the Parliament tobegin a fresh process for the election of a Prime Minister onthe basis of majority vote as political parties had failed tohammer out a deal to form a consensus government.

Parliament''s Business Advisory Committee, which runsthe prime ministerial poll, announced that the parties wouldhave to file nominations by February 2, following which freshelections would be held February 3.

The second and third round of election, if required,will be held on February 5 and 6 respectively, it said.

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

President Yadav''s second deadline to form a nationalconsensus government expired yesterday.

The Maoists have staked claim to lead the nextcoalition during the meeting of the three parties as they werethe largest party in the House.

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

A candidate must garner the support of more than 50per cent of the 601-seat Constituent Assembly to win. However,no party holds a majority in the legislature, and thedeadlocked parties have been unable to form a coalition.

On January 25, a five-member parliamentary committeeheaded by Ek Raj Bhandari approved key changes in the rulesfor electing a prime minister that would make it mandatory forlawmakers to vote for a new leader 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.

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