Nepal crisis not to end by 2010By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
Friday, December 24, 2010
KATHMANDU - With just a week left for the year to end, the protracted political crisis paralysing Nepal for nearly six months is not likely to be resolved with the formation of a new government by next Friday.
The faint hope of a new government ended with the opposition Maoist party losing their parliament battle Thursday night to the ruling coalition and agreeing to call it off.
The former guerrillas had forced President Ram Baran Yadav to call a special session of parliament this month in a bid to end the futile prime ministerial election process, which failed to choose a new premier despite 16 rounds of vote, and begin a fresh race with new contestants.
The special session was also intended to be a rap on the knuckles for the government that had prorogued the house last month without their consent after a brawl in the house over the new budget.
However, the plan misfired after it became apparent that the communists in the ruling coalition, who are also demanding a new prime ministerial election, would not support the Maoists but remain with their allies and defeat the former rebels if it came to a vote.
The Maoists therefore had no option but to agree to end their much-vaunted special session after only two sittings.
While the mollified ruling parties said a regular session of parliament would be called within a week and it would focus on electing a new prime minister, it would still not end complications and have a new government in place by Friday.
The Nepali Congress, the largest party in the alliance government, has refused to withdraw its candidate, Ram Chandra Poudel, who has been holding up the formation of a new government for months.
Poudel is the only contestant left in the prime ministerial fray after both the Maoists and communists were forced to withdraw their nominees, the first due to a vote-buying scandal and the latter after a feud within the party.
Nepal’s unique constitution says the race can continue endlessly even with just one candidate till he withdraws or manages to get half of the votes in the 601-seat parliament.
There is no possibility that Poudel will be able to gather simple majority. Still, his party has decided to keep him in the fray to prevent the Maoists from returning to power with a new alliance with the communists.
However, the 17th round of election will be different from the previous ones after Nepal’s Supreme Court ruled that lawmakers will not be allowed to sit neutral during the voting.
The earlier votes failed because most of the parties except Poudel’s sat in abstention.
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)