KATHMANDU: Nepal`s parliament failed for the sixth time to elect a prime minister on Sunday, as the house speaker warned of a "serious crisis" if a new government is not in place soon.
The country has been without a government since June 30, when former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal stood down under pressure from the opposition Maoist party to pave the way for a new power-sharing administration.
Since then, political leaders have been unable to agree on the shape of the new administration and five earlier votes to try to select a new prime minister have failed.
The Maoists, who fought a decade-long civil war against the state before transforming themselves into a political party ahead of 2008 elections, hold the largest number of seats in parliament, but not enough to govern alone.
Party leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better know as Prachanda, is standing against Ram Chandra Poudel, chairman of the second-largest party in parliament, the centrist Nepali Congress.
But neither candidate has been able to secure the backing of the rival parties they need to form a new coalition government.
The Maoists are in talks with a grouping of four small parties that collectively hold 82 of the 601 seats in parliament, but no deal has yet been done.
Dahal secured 240 votes to Poudel`s 122 in Sunday`s poll, in which the third-largest party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), remained neutral.
BDST: 1753 HRS, September 5, 2010