Nepal Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal has reiterated his commitment to resign from office if no concrete progress takes place in the peace process by Saturday, August 13. Last week, after swearing in a new set of Maoist Ministers despite widespread opposition from his own party, Mr. Khanal had set the deadline, linking resignation with movement on integration and rehabilitation.

In a statement read out in Parliament on his behalf by Deputy Prime Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari, Mr. Khanal said unless the “fundamental tasks of the peace process” were completed by Saturday, the government would lose its relevance. He defined the “fundamentals” as an agreement on Army integration modality, number of combatants to be integrated, ranks, norms of entry, rehabilitation package, and regrouping of combatants. Since he had “reiterated the commitment to resign on the floor of the house”, the Prime Minister appealed to the opposition, Nepali Congress (NC), which had been obstructing proceedings to allow the House to function. The NC has agreed to allow Parliament to function till Saturday.

Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda', who returned from a four day visit to Malaysia on Wednesday, told reporters that the “five-point agreement” signed by the three major parties would be implemented and the peace and constitutional process would move forward.

Before his departure, Mr. Prachanda had said Mr. Khanal would resign by Saturday irrespective of movement on the peace process, in order to pave way for a “national unity government”. Maoist vice-chairman Dr. Baburam Bhattarai is the party's official candidate to lead a unity government, while in the Nepali Congress, a tussle is under way between parliamentary party leader Ram Chandra Poudel and the former Prime Minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, to become the party's candidate.

Keywords: Nepal politics

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