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Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Saturday, 19 July 2008 17:52 UK

Nepal fails to choose president

Information Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, in  white, waits to vote
None of the presidential candidates secured a majority

Nepal's constituent assembly has failed to elect the country's first president to lead the new republic formed after the abolition of the monarchy in May.

The frontrunner, Ram Baran Yadav, backed by the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party, fell just short of a majority in the first ballot.

The candidate backed by the Maoists, Ramraja Prasad Singh, came second.

The assembly will now fix a new date for a run off.

It did succeed in electing a vice-president, Paramanand Jha, who was proposed by the Madhesi People's Rights Forum.

Nepal's former Maoist rebels hold the most seats in the recently elected assembly but do not have a majority.

The selection of the country's first post-monarchy head of state could have allowed them to form a government, as a president is needed to swear in the new prime minister.

Largely ceremonial

However, in a secret ballot held in the new assembly, no candidate won the 298 votes necessary, Nepal Television reported.

Ram Baran Yadav was just four votes short of a majority, it said.

Ramraja Prasad Singh, who is backed by the Maoists although he is not a member of their party, won 282 votes, the channel reported.

The post of president will be largely ceremonial but it is a key step in forming the new government.

With no single party commanding a parliamentary majority, the president's position could become even more significant.


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