Nepali Congress selects PM candidate

Kathmandu, Jan 26: Nepali Congress, the largest party in parliament Sunday named its president Sushil Koirala as its prime ministerial candidate, clearing a major hurdle in the formation of a new government in the Himalayan nation two months after the constituent assembly elections.

The Nepali Congress emerged as the largest political party in the Nov 19 polls last year for a new constituent assembly. But the new government could not yet be formed amid a row within the party over who should lead.

Out of 194 lawmakers of the Nepali Congress, 105 voted for Koirala as the party’s parliamentary leader, while his rival senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba secured 89 votes, Xinhua reported.

Deuba has already been the country’s prime minister three times after the 1990 political change when multi-party parliamentary democracy was ushered in after a popular movement which ousted the erstwhile partyless panchayat polity. Koirala has not even served in any ministerial position during his 50-year political career.

Three leaders, Koirala, Deuba and vice president Ram Chandra Poudel were competing for the parliamentary party leader’s post. Poudel, however, opted out of the race after Koirala agreed to entrust him the post of the party’s acting president.

After being elected, Koirala said his priority would be to form a government of national consensus. “We will consult with all parties to form a consensus government which is necessary to promulgate a new constitution within a year,” Koirala said.

The government formation process is likely to start as soon as the first meeting of the parliamentary session of the constituent assembly begins Sunday.

Though Koirala is eligible to become the prime minister as the leader of the largest party, he has to win the support of the second largest party Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) or the third largest party Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in parliament.

IANS