Nepal's Maoists say they will not form a new government after the defeat of their presidential candidate, plunging the Himalayan nation into further political chaos.

The former communist rebels' choice for president, Ramraja Singh, lost Monday's election in the constituent assembly.  Instead, Nepali Congress party leader Ram Baran Yadav was elected to the ceremonial role, after the country's two other main political parties joined forces.

Maoist leaders Tuesday said Monday's defeat shows they do not have the support to lead a coalition government and instead will continue to act as the opposition.

The Maoists had hoped to hold both the presidency and the premiership.  The former rebels hold the most seats in the constituent assembly in April's election, but do not have a majority.

The vote for the presidency was the first major decision by the assembly since lawmakers decided to abolish the 239-year-old monarchy and establish Nepal as a republic.

The Maoists ended their decade-long insurgency and agreed to join the government two years ago.  More than 1,300 people died in insurgency-related violence.

Nepal's new president, Ram Baran Yadav, is a 61-year-old physician from southern Nepal's ethnic Madheshi community and a former health minister.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.