Kathmandu, Oct 5 (IANS) Nepal's opposition Maoist party suspended a legislator Tuesday amidst reports that he was involved in a knifing brawl ahead of a 10th round of prime ministerial election that is doomed to be futile.
Narendra Bahadur Kunwar, Maoist MP from Baitadi district in farwest Nepal, was suspended from party membership after he was alleged to have stabbed a comrade at the party's district meeting Monday following a dispute over the misappropriation of funds.
The former guerrillas also suspended Rana Bahadur Kunwar, the local leader said to have been involved in the misappropriation of over NRS 1.2 million collected from 'donations'.
The new disgrace for the former rebels came even as the party is trying to live down an allegation of having tried to bribe MPs to win the prime ministerial election and being forced to exit from the race after the scandal erupted.
Another Maoist lawmaker, Balkrishna Dhungel, faces arrest after he was found guilty of a murder in 1998.
Two years after the Maoists swept the elections and emerged as the largest party, their popularity has begun to dip due to continued violence by party cadre, their refusal to disband their guerrilla army and lay down arms and the questionable alliances formed by party chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda.
Prachanda himself remains under a cloud, failing to win simple majority in the prime ministerial election despite taking part in seven rounds.
Though he withdrew from the race last month and is now urging the rival Nepali Congress party to withdraw its candidate and start fresh elections, the centrist party has refused to do so, fearing an opportunistic alliance by the Maoists and communists after both were forced to exit from the fray.
Prachanda returned from an unexplained junket to Malaysia Tuesday to reiterate the call to the Nepali Congress to end the futile election with just one contestant.
However, the Nepali Congress said it will continue with the poll, however futile it may be, till the Maoists agree on a time-bound peace plan and give up violence.
With the Maoists and communists having agreed to abstain from voting, it is clear that Nepali Congress candidate Ram Chandra Poudel will not be able to garner simple majority and Wednesday's election will also be futile.
Nepal's unique election system dictates that the aborted poll will have to be continued till Poudel agrees to withdraw his candidacy.
The protracted crisis more than three months after Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned is causing growing international concern.
On Wednesday, UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn B. Pascoe is arriving in Kathmandu to assess the progress in the stalled peace process after the ruling parties and the Maoists last month urged the UN Security Council to extend the term of UN agency assisting in the process.
Though the UNSC agreed to give another four months to the UN Mission in Nepal that is monitoring the arms and combatants of the Nepal Army and the Maoists' guerrilla forces, it has however announced that the mission will leave Nepal in mid-January.
Ahead of Pascoe's visit, the heads of mission of the European Union, Canada, Japan, Norway, Korea and Switzerland issued a joint statement, urging the parties to increase the momentum of the peace process, show flexibility and cooperate in good faith for lasting peace.
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at email@example.com)