The fourth-round election in the Nepali parliament was again failed to elect a new PM.

Following the three-point agreement signed by the major three political parties -Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-UML) and Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) on the midnight of 28 May 2010, PM Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned from the post of the PM a few weeks ago. The president has asked to Mr. Nepal to run a caretaker government until the new government is formed. According to the interim constitution of Nepal, the President called on the political parties to form a consensus government within a week. The political parties were unable to form the consensus government, even after being given an extended five days to do so. After the efforts to form the consensus government had failed, the president called for the formation of a majority government through voting in the parliament, based on the other provision in the interim constitution.

Mr. Puspa Kamal Dahal (Prachand) from UCPN-M, Mr. Ram Chandra Paudel from NC and Mr. Jhalanath Khanal from CPN-UML registered their candidacies for the post of the Prime Minister. The candidacy of Mr. Khanal was conditional -- his party included the condition that Mr. Khanal would withdraw his candidacy if he failed to garner the approval of two-thirds of the parliament (meaning 401 votes out of 601 parliamentarians). In the event, Mr Khanal fell short, receiving support from 390 votes, from the UCPN-M and other small parties. His candidacy was therefore withdrawn.

This left Mr. Dahal and Mr. Poudel as candidates for the post of PM. The first round of election was held on July 21 and the both candidates did not obtain majority votes to elect the PM. Meanwhile, the CPN-UML and the United Democratic Front of Madhesh (UDFM), an alliance of four parties from Terai-Madhaesh (Madheshi People's Rights Forum-Nepal, Madheshi People's Rights Forum-Loktantrik, Terai-Madhesh Loktantrik Party and Sadbhawana Party) remained neutral. Indeed, the CPN-UML has taken as its position that it will not take part in elections for majority government, and instead insists on a national consensus government.

Similarly, the second round election on July 23 was also not successful in electing a PM. The votes of the UDFM would be enough for Mr. Dahal to get elected, whilst Mr. Poudel needs the support of both the UDFM and CPN-UML. The current political development once again revives the UDFM and strengthens their position for negotiation. After the second round election, the UDFM has forwarded its tough conditions for its support to any party. The UDFM has asked written assurance on the conditions in exchange for its votes.

Some of the major conditions out of the total 16 which were divided for three categories (related to Madhesh, Constitution making and the Peace Process) are as follows:

  1. An autonomous Madhesh Province;
  2. Group entry from Madhesh into Nepal Army;
  3. Democratization of Nepal Army;
  4. Management of PLA (Maoist army);
  5. Return of seized property by the Maoist party;
  6. Development of a national security policy.
These conditions have been already been accepted by the government of Nepal with the Maoist party and the Madhesh-based political parties before the constitution assembly election, with the exception of the national security policy. However, these agendas were never implemented after the constitution assembly election.

The possibility of a national consensus government by the major political parties still seems far removed. Meanwhile, the UCPN-M has published its position paper, focusing mainly on the security issues which agrees to the following agenda:

  1. Democratic control of Nepal Army;
  2. Development of a National Security Policy;
  3. Time-bound management of PLA.
This position paper was not acceptable to the NC and the CPN-UML. The NC then published its own position paper, which did not include development of a national security policy and democratic control of the Nepal Army.

On to the third round election, which was also unable to elect the PM. Again, neither the candidate of the UCPN-M nor the NC managed to get the majority votes needed to elect the PM, despite the fact that some of the CA members of the Madheshi People's Rights Forum (MPRF) defied the party's decision to be neutral by casting their votes for the UCPN-M candidate Puspa Kamal Dahal "Prachand".

On 4 August 2010, immediately after third round of the PM election, Mr. Shyam Saran, representative of the Indian Prime Minister  and former foreign secretary, made his visit to Nepal. His visit looked like being highly influential given the political context of PM election. He completed his two day visit after meeting with the major political parties including Madhesh-based parties.

However, the fourth round elections also failed to elect the PM. The CA members of the MPRF who had voted with the UCPN-M in the third round election this time followed their party's line and stayed neutral.

Now, we await the fifth round of elections on 18 August. Before this, Mr. K.B. Rajan, former Indian ambassador to Nepal, has made another visit from India, as potentially influential as Shyam Saran's could have been. After four rounds of deadlock, nobody can say whether the fifth round will bring a resolution to the election. The frustration of the people in Nepal is at a peak, with people saying - enough is enough! No more elections for the PM and no more political games in our name! They demand that the politicians form the consensus government and bring the peace process to its logical conclusion.

Ambika Pokhrel, Nepal Local Correspondent, Insight on Conflict, 12 August 2010