On Wednesday, Nepal's parliament failed to elect a new prime minister amid a standoff between former Maoist rebels and other political parties.
The Himalayan nation has been without an effective government for three weeks since Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned under pressure from the Maoists. The former rebels are trying to return to power and oversee the drafting of the nation's first republican constitution.
Maoist chief Prachanda earned 242 votes while Ram Chandra Paudel of the centrist Nepali Congress got 124, both failing to meet the halfway mark in the 599 member parliament.
A third contestant backed out minutes before the voting.
[Subas Nemwang, Parliament Speaker]: (nepali)
"Since no one has secured the majority I have called a parliament sitting on Friday to choose from among the two."
Nepal has seen two governments in two years since the 239-year-old monarchy was abolished. Political instability has delayed the creation of the new constitution and stalled the peace process that ended a bloody decade-old civil war.
Prachanda and Paudel will now seek to gather support from among the more than 200 members who refused to vote on Wednesday.
Many parties say they are willing to support the Maoists if they close camps that house their former guerrillas and give up their weapons, which are currently locked up.
So far the Maoists have refused to accept these demands.