Nepali Congress will sit in Opposition: Poudyal

Shirish B. Pradhan

Kathmandu, Feb 3 (PTI) The election of Communist PartyPresident Jhalanath Khanal today was described as a"catastrophe" by Nepali Congress leader Ramchandra Poudyal,who was defeated for the 17th time in the top race.

"The election will be a catastrophe for the nation,"Poudyal, the losing candidate of the Nepal Congress in theelection, told PTI.

Poudyal, who earlier failed to garner a majority in 16rounds of poll in seven months, today received 122 votes inthe 601-member House.

He said the Nepali Congress will sit in the oppositionas there was no possibility of forming a consensus governmentat this moment.

He said the Nepali Congres will decide on its policytowards the new government after the meeting of its centralcommittee meeting of the party tomorrow, he added.

Khanal was today elected the new prime minister,ending the seven-month deadlock over the formation of a newgovernment 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.

Senior CPN-UML leader K.P. Sharma Oli underlined theneed for other parties to be included in the coalition so thatthe government can work through cooperation and collaboration.

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

Before the election, Khanal told parliament that itwas crucial for leaders to consolidate the gains made in thepeace process and take it to its logical conclusion.

"We must move ahead very quickly or once again beplunged into crisis," he said.

"Parliament''s main task is to draft the new nationalconstitution and I can assure you that we will achieve thatunder my party''s leadership of the next government," he toldthe lawmakers.

The election for a new prime minister today came underrevised election rules designed to break a deadlock that hasleft the country without a government for seven months. Thenew rules barred lawmakers from abstain from voting in theHouse.

The political crisis has been hugely damaging forNepal, which is still reeling from its decade long civil war,in which at least 13,000 people died.

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