The head of Nepal's opposition Maoists withdrew Friday from the race to become prime minister to pave the way for fresh talks on forming a national consensus government, his party said.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, a former warlord who still goes by his nom de guerre, Prachanda ("the fierce one"), was the front-runner in the two-way contest, but had failed to win the cross-party support he needed to form a new coalition government.
The Maoists, who fought a decade-long civil war against the state before transforming themselves into a political party and winning 2008 elections, hold the largest number of seats in parliament, but not enough to govern alone.
"The country has been held hostage by the indecision of its politicians," the party's vice chairman Baburam Bhattarai told AFP.
"We have decided to pull out of the race so that we can make a fresh attempt at reaching consensus between the parties for a national unity government."
Nepal has been without a government since June 30, when former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal stood down under intense pressure from the Maoists.
Since then, the parties have been unable to agree on the shape of the new administration and a series of votes in the 601-member parliament have proved inconclusive, with none of the candidates securing an overall majority.
The next vote was due to be held on September 26, but is likely to be cancelled after the Maoists' move.
Source: AFP South Asian Edition