Nepal PM to quit


Kathmandu : After resisting a year-long fierce battle by the Maoists to topple his coalition government, Nepal’s embattled Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal is finally ready to quit so that the new session of parliament can start next week without obstruction by the former guerrillas.

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The 57-year-old soft-spoken but tough-willed communist leader will announce his resignation at 6 p.m. Wednesday, his office said.

The resignation comes more than a month after he had allegedly promised to do so in exchange for the Maoists bailing his government out of a dire constitutional crisis.

On May 28, the government, parliament and the constitution would have been dissolved automatically as the major parties failed to promulgate a new constitution.

It was averted after the Maoists allowed the government to amend the constitution and extend the deadline by 12 months. In return, they said Nepal promised them he would step down within 72 hours.

But once bailed out, the PM refused to quit, triggering a war of attrition.

The enraged Maoists, saying they had been betrayed, threatened to obstruct the new session of parliament and prevent the government from passing the budget, which would have plunged the republic into a financial crisis.

Though Nepal’s resignation will now pave the way for the house to convene its new session from July 5 without disruption, the turbulent Himalayan nation’s troubles are not likely to be over.

A new battle is feared over Nepal’s successor.

The Maoists, the biggest party in parliament, had been clamouring for a new government under them with their chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda as the new executive.

But now there are rifts among the former guerrillas and Prachanda’s leadership is being challenged by his three deputies.

The second largest party, the Nepali Congress, is also keen to lead the new government.

Already part of the ruling alliance, it too has three contenders, including former PM Sher Bahadur Deuba.

The third hat in the ring could be from Nepal’s own party with party chief Jhalanath Khanal reportedly showing interest.

Khanal has been crossing swords with his own comrade Nepal for several months now, calling his own party-led government a failure.

Also eyeing the chair is the fourth largest party in parliament, the ethnic Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik, headed by Deputy PM Bijay Kumar Gachchedar.