Nepal president sets deadline for new prime minister

KATHMANDU Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:32pm GMT

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KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal's President Ram Baran Yadav has given political parties until next week to agree on a candidate to replace caretaker Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, opening the door for a change of leadership in the unstable Himalayan nation.

Nepal has been in a political crisis since May when a special Constituent Assembly missed a deadline to prepare a new constitution amid a political row over the number and names of the federal states to be created under the new system.

Yadav asked political parties "to choose the prime minister on the basis of a political consensus and recommend the name to him by November 29," his office said in a statement on Friday.

Bhattarai and his aides were not immediately available for comment, and it was not clear whether the prime minister was ready to give up power, or if the feuding parties would reach a consensus before the deadline.

Efforts to forge a consensus on a new prime minister will require bringing together more than a dozen feuding political parties, reinforcing the difficulties of building an agreement in one of the world's poorest countries which has seen four prime ministers change in as many years.

The interim constitution that governs Nepal is unclear about what the president could do if political parties fail to agree on a candidate for prime minister by next week.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Robert Birsel)

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