South Asia

Nepal fails to elect new PM for a fourth time

Maoist leader Prachanda (L) and caretaker PM Madhav Kumar Nepal (2 August 2010)
Image caption The Maoist leader Prachanda (left) again secured the most votes but fell short of an outright majority

Politicians in Nepal have again failed to elect a new prime minister.

The country has been without a leader since Madhav Kumar Nepal stepped down more than a month ago.

He said that political in-fighting between his coalition government and opposition Maoist MPs meant he was unable to function.

It is the fourth time parliament has failed to nominate a new PM. A fifth round of voting has now been set for 18 August.

The result comes despite high hopes that the fourth round of voting in parliament would be successful.

Although Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal - or Prachanda - won more votes than his rival from the Nepali Congress party, it was still not enough to secure a majority.

Power vacuum

This is because many of the smaller parties abstained from voting, saying they felt neither candidate was acceptable.

Earlier this week, the Indian government sent an envoy to Nepal to help try to broker a deal between the three main parties that dominate politics in the country, but even this was not enough to break the stalemate.

Many parliamentarians say they have lost faith in the selection process.

"My view is these three parties should stay away from the government and focus on the constitution," said MP Sunil Pant, "and someone from the smaller parties, maybe from the young generation or women, should be a good candidate."

As time passes, there are fears that a prolonged power vacuum could weaken the state and lead to increased instability in a country recovering from a long civil conflict.

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