Ruling Nepali Congress wins most seats, Deuba likely to remain PM

AFP

The ruling Nepali Congress party has emerged as Nepal's single largest party after winning 89 seats in the 275-member parliament in a general election last month, and its leader, Sher Bahadur Deuba, looks set to stay on as prime minister.

A five-party alliance led by the Nepali Congress, which has been in power since July last year, won 136 seats, just two short for the 138 required for a majority, a tally of results from the Election Commission showed on Wednesday.

Party officials said leaders of the five-party alliance had sought the support of some new legislators and parties to reach the necessary majority.

Prakaksh Sharan Mahat, a spokesman for the Nepali Congress, said C.K. Raut, head of the newly formed Janamat Party, which won six seats, had met Deuba and pledged support for a new government.

Raut was not immediately available for comments.

"I have no doubt he will be the prime minister of the new government," Mahat said, referring to Deuba.

Deuba, 76, who is considered close to India, is in a better position to muster support for a majority, analysts said. The alliance led by his main rival, K.P. Sharma Oli of the Nepal Communist Unified Marxist Leninist Party (UML), won 92 seats.

Asian giants China and India jostle for influence in the Himalayan nation wedged between them. The Nepali Congress is seen as pro-India while the UML is considered closer to China.

Deuba could take the charge of a government for the sixth time in the next few days given how difficult it would be for any other alliance to cobble together a majority in parliament, analysts said.

"The present ruling alliance is most likely to form a new government because it needs the support of only a few members which could be easily won," said Krishna Khanal, a retired professor of political science at the Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu.

NEW FACES

Nepal has had 10 different governments since the abolition of a 239-year-old monarchy in 2008.

Its three major parties - the Nepali Congress, UML and the Maoist Centre - have all led different coalitions in the past but none has served a full five-year term due to power struggles and infighting.

Analysts said many younger candidates from newly formed smaller parties, or independents, had won seats in the Nov. 20 election, a sign of voter frustration with the old parties.

Younger politicians are also seeking to make their mark within the established parties.

Gagan Thapa, a young lawmaker from Deuba's party has vowed to challenge Deuba when the party deputies elect the prime minister.

Election results for the seven provincial assemblies, which were held along with parliamentary elections, showed that no party had got a clear majority.

Party officials said leaders will work out alliances in all provinces.

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