Nepal PM resigns to end political stalemate
Nepal`s Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned under huge pressure from the Maoist opposition.
Kathmandu: Nepal`s prime minister announced his resignation in a live televised address on Wednesday, saying he wanted to end a long political stalemate in the troubled nation.
Madhav Kumar Nepal had been under intense pressure from the opposition Maoist party to quit ever since he agreed last month to make way for a power-sharing government in a deal with the former rebels.
"I have decided to resign from the post of prime minister so that the peace process can be completed, a new constitution drafted and the current political deadlock resolved," he said.
Nepal`s three main parties agreed on May 28 to form a government of national unity in a deal to extend the term of the current parliament and avert a crisis that would have left the country without a functioning legislature.
But there have been fierce disagreements over what form it should take, with party leaders jostling for power, and it remains unclear who will take over as prime minister.
Sources said the president would likely ask the 57-year-old Nepal, a former leader of the ruling Communist Party of Nepal (UML), to stay on in a caretaker role until a permanent successor could be chosen.
The prime minister was catapulted into the job in May 2009 after the fall of the Maoist-led government in a row over the integration of the party`s former fighters into the national army.
His government was seen as weak from the start, and his period in office was marred by a series of power struggles with the Maoists, the largest party in Nepal`s parliament.
The Maoists fought a 10-year civil war against the state before winning 2008 elections, abolishing Nepal`s 240-year-old Hindu monarchy and turning the country into a secular republic.
But their government fell last year after just nine months, and they have been agitating for a return to power ever since, creating a state of near-political paralysis in the desperately poor country.
This month they threatened to block the passage of the new annual budget through parliament unless the prime minister resigned, a move that would have brought further chaos.
Nepal`s parliament, or Constituent Assembly, was elected in 2008 with a two-year mandate to complete the peace process launched after the 10-year civil war between Maoist rebels and the state, and to draft a new national constitution.
But it has failed to complete either task on time, hampered by fierce disagreements between the Maoists and their political rivals.
Its term had been due to end on May 28, leaving the country without a functioning legislature, but lawmakers voted to extend it for another year to allow them time to complete the constitution.