Prachanda withdraws from prime ministerial race in Nepal

Maoist chairman, Mr Pushpa Kamal Dahal, on Friday withdrew from the ongoing prime ministerial election, paving the way for formation of a national consensus government in Nepal and ending nearly three months deadlock. "Pushpa Kamal Dahal will withdraw from the election," a party statement jointly signed by him and UML chairman Jhala Nath Khanal stated. The statement said Dahal, who still goes by his nom de guerre Mr Prachanda ("the fierce one"), was withdrawing from the race for selecting the prime minister on the basis of a new consensus. The Maoist, who have the largest number of lawmakers in the 601-member constituent assembly, agreed to back out during a joint meeting with CPN-UML on Friday, the Republica newspaper reported. Nepal has been without a government since June 30, when former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal stood down under intense pressure from the Maoists. Parliament has failed to elect a prime minister in seven rounds of election as parties have been unable to agree on the shape of the new government. Mr Prachanda was the front-runner in the two-way contest, but had failed to win the cross-party support he needed to form a new coalition government. Nepali Congress' Ram Chandra Paudel is now only remaining candidate for the new premier. Paudel needs to garner majority of votes in parliament to get elected. Maoist vice-chair Narayan Kaji Shrestha informed that both the parties will appeal Nepali Congress to withdraw from the election for a new national consensus after the meeting. CPN-UML had remained neutral in earlier elections but there was an open call from a few senior leaders, including vice-chair and defence minister Bidhya Bhandari that they should vote for democratic force.

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