Unfortunately the seventh round of elections for the position of Prime Minister of Nepal has once more failed to produce a result. (See my previous posts for coverage of earlier rounds in this process). One change however is that the the candidate of Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M), Mr. Puspa Kamal Dahal, has declared his withdrawal from the race to be PM. Mr. Dahal has made this decision following the three-point agreement with the Chairperson of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML). The both parties have also asked the Nepali Congress (NC) to withdraw its candidacy of the PM post too. They have claimed that for the national consensus government, both parties have to withdraw their candidates for the PM post. The three-point agreement focused on a way to break the deadlock in the PM election process and the formation of the national consensus government.

The agreement drew criticisms as soon as it was published, including some by the CPN-UML party’s own senior leaders. Indeed, CPN-UML has been neutral since the beginning of the PM election advocating for national consensus government. However, the PM candidate of Nepali Congress has remained in the PM race and Nepali Congress has recently declared that it does not intend to withdraw its PM candidate. The NC has successfully completed its 12th convention. Many new faces and young leaders were elected to the party’s central committee, and the former acting president was elected president. This had created hope amongst some that the NC would come out with fresh and new energy for tackling the current deadlock.

Chairperson of the Constituent Assembly has said that only after the withdrawal of both candidates for the PM post can a new process for electing a PM be started. It is not possible to go to the new process if the one candidate remains in the PM candidate. It is noted that Mr. Dahal has only declared the withdraw of his PM candidacy, but not withdrawn formally or officially.

Different opinions exist about the PM election, after seven rounds of failed attempts. Some are advocating for amendment of the constitution to settle this problem and some are opposed to amendments, arguing that it is not the appropriate method to resolve the crisis. The interim constitution-2063 has only two provisions for formation of the government – i) consensus method and ii) majority method through voting in the parliament. The only option left is the majority method through voting in the parliament since the political parties have been unable to form the government through consensus.

The passion of the Nepalese people for the process has disappeared. The ray of hope for a logical conclusion for the peace process is very thin. I have been visiting some of the eastern parts of Nepal from the Terai/Madhesh to the hills, and I can reflect that the people are tired with the politicians’ behaviour and the dirty politics we have seen. People can only pray for no further deterioration in their own lives. I am writing this update from the Terai/Madhesh. Ordinary people are barely concerned at all with the PM election. And personally I am losing hope for a timely writing of the constitution and logical end, and pray that the 8th round of the PM election can be successful.

Ambika Pokhrel, Nepal Local Correspondent, 25 September 2010