Nepal Communist chief Khanal elected PM

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Shirish B. Pradhan

Kathmandu, Feb 3 (PTI) Nepal Communist Party PresidentJhalanath Khanal was today elected the prime minister of thecountry, ending the seven-month deadlock over the formation ofa new government after Maoist supremo Prachanda quit the racein his favour in a last minute deal.

60-year-old Khanal, leader of the Communist Party ofNepal (United Marxist-Leninist), secured 368 of the 557 votescast in the 601-member Parliament, the speaker announced.

Khanal''s party, which is the third largest party inthe parliament and leads the caretaker coalition, got supportfrom the main Opposition Maoist Party.

Earlier, in a surprise move, CPN-Maoist withdrewPrachanda from the Prime Ministerial race and decided tosupport Khanal.

Nepal''s parliament voted for a new prime ministerunder revised election rules designed to break a deadlock thathad left the country without a government since the June 30resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal under intenseMaoists pressure.

Under the new rules, no lawmaker was to be allowed toabstain from voting in the House.

The UCPN-Maoist has 238 seats and the CPN-UML has 108seats in the Constituent Assembly, which acts as the country''sinterim Parliament.

The second largest Nepali Congress, which put up R.CPoudyal as its candidate again, received 122 votes. The partyhas 114 members in the House.

Bijaya Gachhadar, the president of Madhesi PeoplesRights Forum -Democratic, who was the third candidate got 67votes.

President Ram Baran Yadav had last week directedParliament to begin a fresh process for the election of PrimeMinister on the basis of majority vote as political partieshad failed to hammer out a deal to form a consensusgovernment.

Earlier Poudyal had failed to garner a majority in 16rounds of voting, forcing him to quit the race.

The political crisis has been hugely damaging forNepal, which is still reeling from its decade of civil warthat ended in 2006. The standoff has delayed the drafting of anew constitution and conclusion of the peace process. (More)PTI SBP RBS AKJ

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