The Nepalese parliament was scheduled to meet later Friday for its fourth attempt to elect a prime minister, with neither candidate showing a clear lead, and some parties opposing the voting procedure itself, dpa reported. The Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxists Leninists (UML) and 17 fringe parties, who are not presenting candidates, called Thursday for the majority vote to be abandoned in favour of a consensus-based selection. But the two candidates, the Nepali Congress party's Ram Chandra Paudel and Maoist head Pushpa Kamal Dahal, said they were going ahead, despite both failing to garner the 300 votes needed to win in the previous three rounds. The Madhesi Front, an alliance of fringe parties based in the southern region of Terai, or Madhes, have officially been abstaining in the elections, although some members broke ranks to vote for the Maoist candidate in the third round. It was expected that the Madhesi Front would be more disciplined in Friday's vote and abstain, in line with the group's official opposition to the election process.Indian special envoy Shyam Saran has been in Kathmandu, encouraging politicians to build a government by consensus instead of voting by majority for a prime minister.
India, facing its own Maoist insurrection, is wary of the Maoists gaining political power in neighbouring Nepal.
Parliament Speaker Subash Chandra Nembwang announced Friday's planned poll after the third round on Monday failed to produce a clear winner.
Nepal has been under a caretaker government since Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal stepped down on June 30 after repeated calls for his resignation from the Maoists.
The parliament's attempts to elect a prime minister come after President Baran Yadav called for a majority government.
Earlier requests by the president to form a consensus-based national unity government after the premier's resignation foundered on disagreements between the parties on the reintegration of former rebel Maoists and other issues.