Nepal’s parliament again fails to elect new PM

Nepal’s parliament failed for the fifth time to elect a new prime minister on Monday, leading the president to warn citizens could lose faith in democracy after a three-month leadership vacuum.

Nepal has been without a government since June, when former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal stood down under pressure from the opposition Maoist party to pave the way for a new power-sharing government.

Since then, political leaders have been unable to agree on the shape of the new administration, and four earlier votes to try to select a new prime minister also failed to produce a clear winner.

A spokesman for Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav said he was “deeply troubled” by the crisis in the impoverished Himalayan country and had urged leaders to reach a consensus.

“The president is deeply troubled… he fears the public will begin to lose faith in democratic institutions and the democratic process,” Rajendra Dahal told AFP.

“He has expressed his concerns to everyone including the party leaders and  prime minister,” he added, referring to Nepal, who has stayed on in caretaker role during the deadlock.

The Maoists, who fought a decade-long civil war against the state before transforming themselves into a political party ahead of 2008 elections, hold the largest number of seats in parliament, but not enough to govern alone.

Party leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal is standing against Ram Chandra Poudel, chairman of the second-largest party in parliament, the centrist Nepali Congress, to be the next prime minister.

But neither candidate has been able to secure the backing of rival parties that they would need to form a new coalition government.

The resulting stalemate has hampered progress in the long-running peace process that began when the war ended in 2006 and prevented the passage of the annual budget, delaying much-needed government spending.

“If the budget cannot be passed soon we will face a lot of problems. Investors will lose confidence and we will have difficulty implementing development projects,” finance ministry spokesman Lokdarshan Regmi told AFP.

Dahal secured 246 votes on Monday, 55 short of a majority, while Poudel won 124. A sixth vote is expected to be scheduled for September.