UML to stay neutral in fifth round; appeals to candidates to withdraw

The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) has decided to continue to remain neutral in the fifth round of parliamentary voting to elect Prime Minister, scheduled for August 18. Both candidates in the fray — Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda' and Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel — have failed to muster up a majority in the last four rounds.


The UML central committee decision on Wednesday to remain neutral came in the wake of speculation that a powerful faction, led by caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and senior leader K.P. Oli, wanted to get the party to support the Nepali Congress (NC).

Party chairman Jhalanath Khanal has maintained that the UML must only cooperate to form a consensus government.

“We have analysed that national unity is essential to write the constitution and finish the peace process. We would like to appeal to the candidates to withdraw their candidature and make efforts to create a national consensus,” said UML leader Pradeep Gyawali.

The party has prepared a nine-point paper that could form the basis for a consensus, with emphasis on the need to detach the Maoist party from its military structure and move on integration. Mr. Gyawali told The Hindu, “We plan to sincerely and intensively find a compromise. If there is no agreement and no result again, we will meet on August 19 to review our position.”

The UML call to candidates to withdraw comes a day after the Maoists had informally proposed both candidates should pull out of the race and reach an agreement.

The NC dismissed the possibility of withdrawing. Its candidate, Mr. Poudel said, “There is no basis to trust the Maoist proposal. They are just creating confusion.”

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