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Nepal fails to elect premier for 3rd time.

KATHMANDU, Aug. 3 Kyodo

Nepal's parliament failed to elect a new prime minister for the third time in two weeks on Monday after neither of the two candidates in the second runoff yet again got a simple majority of votes, with about one-third of its members abstaining.

Former Prime Minister Prachanda, whose Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) commands 237 seats in the parliament, received 259 votes, while his rival Ram Chandra Paudel, vice president of the Nepali Congress party, got 124 votes. The Nepali Congress commands 114 seats in the parliament.

The country's third largest party Communist Party of Nepal (UML), which commands 109 seats, and a common front of four ethnic Madhesi parties that commands 82 votes refrained from voting.

A runoff will be repeated until either of the two candidates wins a simple majority, or 300 votes, in the 601-member parliament that has 599 serving members. The parliament has not set the date for another election for prime minister.

Caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned June 30 hoping to bring impetus to Nepal's peace process that has stalled since Prachanda's government collapsed in May last year.

But the resignation has plunged the country into further uncertainty with the parliament's inability to agree on a new administration.

Nepal's Maoists fought a violent war against state forces from 1996 to 2006 when they joined a peace process with mainstream parties.

Two key tasks of the peace process -- settling the future of over 19,000 Maoist combatants and drawing up a new constitution -- remain incomplete.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Aug 9, 2010
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