To elect the country’s first president since the abolition of a 240-year-old Hindu monarchy, Nepal’s governing assembly has begun voting in a run-off. Thanks to the selection of the first head of state, the ruling Maoist politicians could get a step closer to forming a coalition government.
For weeks, political parties have squabbled over who should get the largely ceremonial post.
On Satruday, in an earlier vote held by the recently elected constitutional assembly, no candidate won the 298 votes, necessary to win the country’s top-ranked post.
Ram Baran Yadav, a member of the ruling Nepali Congress party, is the candidate who won the biggest number of votes : 283.
Backed by the Maoists even though he is not a member of the party, Ramraja Prasad Singh, 73, was favourite to win but only received 270 votes.
And as a candidate fielded by Nepal’s third main party won no votes, only Mr Yadav and Mr Singh are left to compete on Monday.
Mr Yadav said: “I am confident I will win the election today. Apart from the three parties in our new alliance I have been pledged support by a few other smaller parties today.”
Ram Baran Yadav is now the likely winner, said Al Jazeera’s Subina Shrestha, reporting from Kathmandu, the capital.
“We don’t know how the proceedings will go because, last time, everyone had expected the Maoist nominee to win but it didn’t happen”, she said.
“The election of a president is significant because it means that the government can move forward.”
Since May 28, when the assembly sacked King Gyanendra and abolished the monarchy, the country has been stuck in political limbo.
The interim prime minister, Girija Prasad Koirala, has also resigned, but as there was no one in power to accept his resignation, he has lingered on as a weak caretaker. As a result, swearing in a new prime minister will be one of the president’s first jobs.
Altough the three main parties had hoped to select a president by consensus, infighting led to a falling out and to the assembly’s presidential election.
Both candidates are ethnic Madhesis who come from the troubled lowland area bordering India known as the Terai. Frequent deadly clashes have been caused by demands for an autonomous federal state.