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Anger in Nepal as PM poll likely to fail again
Kathmandu, Aug 22 (IANS):
Published on 22 Aug. 2010 11:48 PM IST
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Amidst growing anger at the failure of Nepal’s major parties to elect a new prime minister even after four rounds of vote, nearly two dozen other parties have threatened to boycott parliament and start a protest movement if Monday’s election also fails.
The run-off seems doomed for failure yet again with the communists declaring they will sit neutral and a bloc of ethnic parties, that could have made a difference, still undecided.
As Maoist supremo and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda takes on his rival, former deputy PM Ram Chandra Poudel of the Nepali Congress (NC), in Monday’s election, neither side is likely to win half the votes in the 599-member parliament needed to form the next government.
Though the Maoists, NC and communists are holding a meeting Sunday to work out a reconciliation, the chances are low with the communists asking both contenders to withdraw and the NC rejecting the call.
As the Maoists said they would withdraw Prachanda’s nomination provided the rivals also followed suit, NC acting chief Sushil Koirala Sunday called an emergency meeting at his residence where the oldest party of Nepal refused to withdraw from the ring, saying it would create a vacuum and anarchy.
The communists, the third largest party in parliament after the Maoists and the NC, triggered the two-month-old crisis after they had to withdraw their candidates due to wrangling within the party. Since then, they have been sitting on the fence, refusing to help either of the candidates reach a majority.
Communist leader and former minister Pradeep Gyawali Saturday disclosed a white paper issued by his party, saying it would vote only if the contestants promised to wrap up the halted peace process within four months.
The communists want the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army dismantled in four months and the former guerrillas’ paramilitary Young Communist League to disband prior to that.
They are also calling for the Maoists to return all the public property captured during the 10-year insurgency.
Though the Maoists agreed to fulfil these demands four years ago, when they signed a peace agreement and ended the armed uprising, they failed to honour their word.
Four parties from the Terai plains, who can help the Maoists win the election, have also been sitting neutral after their attempt to get the former rebels fulfil their demands failed.
Though the Terai bloc remained in the limelight during the four earlier rounds of election, this time however they have been keeping a low profile with no word on what they would do Monday.
However, 22 of the 25 parties in parliament say they have run out of patience with the big three’s jockeying for power.
Prakash Chandra Lohani, former finance minister and leader of the Rastriya Janashakti Party, said if Monday’s vote failed to be conclusive, he and the 21 other parties would begin a fresh protest.
The continued failure of the parties to take the peace process forward and draft a new constitution in time has been a boon for deposed king Gyanendra.
As the parties grow increasingly unpopular, the public is ready to forgive the last king of Nepal for his transgressions.
Not just Gyanendra’s public appearances but even those by his son, the former crown prince Paras, are now being hailed by more and more people though Paras was one of the most hated public figures when monarchy reigned in Nepal.

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