Uncertainty looms over elections in Nepal

Nepal PM

Nepal's prime minister deflected criticism when the nation's interim parliament collapsed in May by promising to hold new elections in November.

But less than three months from the announced poll date, even Baburam Bhattarai's own advisers acknowledge there won't be elections this year.

The delay is certain to increase the already high levels of political turmoil in a country struggling to recover from a bloody civil war and trying to transform itself into a republic after the overthrow of its monarchy.

For now, the poor Himalayan nation is left with no legislature, a prime minister who opponents say has illegally taken power and an uncooperative president who, while largely ceremonial, is crucial to holding new elections. Opposition parties say they won't even participate in new polls unless Bhattarai resigns in favor of a national coalition.

"The present government has lost the trust of all the parties, and we will not allow this government to conduct the elections,'' said Dilendra Badu, a spokesman for the Nepali Congress party. "We will take part in the polls, but not under this one.''

The problems stem from Nepal's inability to write a new constitution following the overthrow of the monarchy. A Constituent Assembly was elected to a two-year term in 2008 to write the document, but riven by political battles and distrust for the former Maoist rebels, it failed even after its term was repeatedly extended.

When the parties couldn't agree to another extension, Bhattarai, a Maoist leader, announced he would stay in charge and lead a caretaker administration _ a move with no basis in the interim constitution – and called for Nov. 22 elections.

But before polls can be held, the government needs to amend the interim constitution to allow for the election of another Constituent Assembly and to change a faulty voting age clause. There is no parliament to do that.

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