South Asia

Nepal chamber fails for the 16th time to elect a new PM

Image caption Nepalis are losing patience with their politicians

Lawmakers in Nepal have failed for a 16th time to vote in a new prime minister. Only one candidate, Ram Chandra Poudel from the centrist Nepali Congress party, stood - but he was unable to win enough votes to secure a majority because several key parties boycotted the election.

The political paralysis threatens to bring the country to its knees, as the BBC's Joanna Jolly reports from Kathmandu.

Nepal has been without a prime minister since Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned at the end of June, saying political infighting was blocking the peace process.

And while this infighting continues, the country's economy is suffering.

The caretaker government will run out of money in a few weeks if a new annual budget is not passed.

"The government has sufficient funds until about 15 November and after that, things grind to a halt," says Susan Goldmark, Nepal country director for the World Bank.

"So this crisis has a really big effect in terms of services to be delivered to the people of Nepal."

It is four years since the end of the Maoist insurgency in Nepal, and in that time the country has signed a peace agreement, held elections and gone from a monarchy to a republic.

But the initial optimism that greeted the end of the war is now fading.

"The political situation has become a sort of a farce and the people are really tuned off and they're getting really frustrated," says Kunda Dixit, publisher of the Nepali Times newspaper.

"The reason for the political deadlock is the fact that there is inter-party rivalry and then there is this real power struggle within the parties.

"So it's not just the parties being deadlocked, but the personalities within the parties not letting another rival from within the party get ahead."

'Like a joke'

On the streets of Kathmandu, shoppers preparing for the Hindu festival of Tihar say they no longer take notice of the votes for prime minister.

"It's like a joke, I don't like this type of election," says the owner of a shop selling saris, Kishar Bajacharya.

Shopper Shobha Kamacharya says: "They don't think about the Nepali people, it's all about the politicians."

The sense of cynicism is felt throughout the country. Four years on from the signing of a peace agreement, the question of what to do with former Maoists fighters has not been resolved and a new constitution has still not been written.

And while the politicians argue, many are dealing with the situation by leaving the country.

Image caption Kiran Lama says he has no choice but to work abroad

Every day, hundreds of young Nepalis stand in line in the midday heat outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get a passport.

They hope they will be able to find work outside Nepal - mostly on construction sites in the Gulf and Malaysia.

Kiran Lama, 26, is one of them. He has a wife and baby to support in Kathmandu. For the past few years, he has been working as a salesman in Saudi Arabia.

"It's very difficult to survive in Kathmandu," he says.

"Ninety per cent of young men are going out of Nepal for a better life."

Unless a consensus can be found between the political parties in the next few weeks, Nepal's economic situation is likely to get worse and its peace process is in danger of falling apart.

Nepal's politicians have a history of coming up with last-minute deals, but this time, they are leaving it right to the wire.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites