KATHMANDU (AFP) – Nepal’s parliament failed to elect a new prime minister for the ninth time on Thursday, three months after the last government collapsed.
Eight earlier votes also failed to produce a clear winner and fewer than half the lawmakers in the 601-member parliament turned out for Thursday’s election, which was widely expected to be inconclusive.
The sole candidate, Ram Chandra Poudel of the centrist Nepali Congress party, won just 105 votes, well short of the simple majority needed to form a new government, the speaker of the house announced.
Nepal has been without a government since June 30, when former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal stood down under intense pressure from the Maoist party, which holds the highest number of seats in parliament.
The long leadership vacuum has severely delayed the annual budget, holding up government spending in one of the world’s poorest countries.
The Maoist candidate, party chairman Pushpa Kama Dahal, withdrew from the running earlier this month to pave the way for fresh talks on forming a national unity government.
The Maoists have urged Poudel, whose party is Nepal’s second largest, to follow suit, but he has refused, saying an agreement on power sharing must come first.
Until he does so, parliament must continue to hold elections.