June 4, 2017 12:15 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, June 3: Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba is poised to become the new prime minister as he is the sole candidate for the post. With the main opposition party CPN-UML not filing any candidacy and Deuba being supported by a majority of lawmakers in parliament, his election has become almost certain.
However, the UML's decision to continue its obstruction of parliament may delay the PM election for a few days, according to leaders of both ruling and opposition parties. The election is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Protesting the decision of the Election Commission to conduct a re-election in Bharatpur Metropolitan City-19, UML has decided to obstruct the House meeting on Sunday. This will affect the election process. UML has been obstructing the House, demanding resumption of vote counting in Bharatpur-19. The vote counting was halted after two representatives of the CPN (Maoist Center) tore up 90 ballots papers in the midst of the counting.
Although Deuba is the sole candidate, the new prime minister will be elected by majority vote as per the constitutional provisions. After the political parties failed to pick a new prime minister through all-party consensus, President Bidya Bhanadri had called on parliament to go for a majority process.
Deuba reached parliament immediately after candidacy registration was opened. He registered his candidacy at 11:30 am with the support outgoing Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. The parliament secretariat had allocated the 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. time slot on Saturday for candidacy registration for new prime minister.
Dahal has proposed Deuba as the candidate for the 40th prime minister of Nepal as per a deal struck between the NC and Maoist Center last July.
NC leader Ram Chandra Paudel, Nepal Loktantrik Forum (NLF) Chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar, Jayadev Joshi of CPN Unified (Samyukta), Prem Bahadur Singh of Samajbadi Janata Party and Kumar Khadka of Akhanda Party Nepal have supported Deuba's candidacy. A few other political parties may also vote for Deuba, say NC leaders.
Deuba has lined up 311 lawmakers behind his candidacy, with the support of the Maoists, NLF and three other fringe parties. The support of at least 297 lawmakers out of the total of 593 is required to get elected as prime minister from parliament.
After the candidacy registration, NC leader and outgoing Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi claimed that Deuba's election has become certain. "Deuba is certain to become the new prime minister. Only the formal process remains," Nidhi told media.
After proposing Deuba as his successor, Prime Minister Dahal, who is also chairman of the CPN (Maoist Center), claimed that his decision of hand over government leadership has set a new precedent in the country.
Once he is elected to the post, Deuba will become prime minister for the fourth time. He headed the government in 1995, 2002 and 2004. Deuba was sacked by then king Gyanendra 12 years ago.