Kathmandu: After a brief respite when they buried the hatchet and bailed the government out of a dire constitutional crisis, Nepal`s opposition Maoist party on Tuesday stepped up its campaign to topple Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, warning that the peace agreement would crumble unless he stepped down by Wednesday.
Declaring that they would not engage in further talks with the ruling parties till the embattled Prime Minister resigned, the former guerrillas on Tuesday began consultations instead with the other parties in Parliament in a bid to redouble pressure on the premier.
The consultations pointedly excluded the ruling Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) and its main ally, the Nepali Congress that have been unitedly opposing the Maoist demand for the Prime Minister`s resignation.
At the end of the consultations, Maoist deputy chief and lawmaker Narayan Kaji Shrestha Prakash said that the Prime Minister had made a commitment to his party on Friday, when Nepal`s government faced dissolution but was saved by the Maoists who voted to extend it by one year.
The PM had agreed verbally to step down unconditionally within five days, the Maoist leader said.
But now, the crisis averted, the Maoists feel backstabbed with the Prime Minister raising conditions for his resignation.
Nepal is asking the former rebels to disband their guerrilla army and paramilitary units as well as return the public property they captured during their 10-year "People`s War" - a demand that saw the ruling parties and the Maoists deadlocked for two years and prevent a new Constitution from being written.
After a midnight drama on Friday, when the nation teetered on the verge of the dissolution of the Constitution, Parliament and government, another midnight crisis now threatens to engulf the troubled republic with the Maoist ultimatum to the PM expiring Wednesday midnight.
Several top Maoist leaders have warned that the retribution will be severe if the PM fails to quit by Wednesday midnight though stopping short of spelling it out.
Meanwhile, there is growing public anger against both sides as the country fears the fight for power will prevent the new constitution from coming into effect even by next year.
The coalition government, already facing criticism because of its failure to restore security, curb corruption and punish those responsible for the gross human right violations perpetrated during the insurgency, is now under fresh fire.
On May 29, celebrated as Republic Day, the government inexplicably conferred state honours on several controversial security personnel. They included former Army chief Rookmangud Katawal and two senior police officials.
All three have been indicted by a state commission formed to punish the officials responsible for the death of nearly two dozen unarmed protesters during a pro-democracy movement in 2006.
The families of the slain protesters have submitted a memorandum to the PM, demanding that the honours be withdrawn. Several other recipients of the awards have refused the honours in protest.
The Maoists too are under fresh criticism after allegations that their cadre were responsible for the abduction of a senior physician who has been missing since last month.