Nepal's Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned on Wednesday after 13 months in power, in a move to break the political deadlock.
The resignation was part of an agreement among the three major political parties — the opposition UCPN (Maoist) and the Nepali Congress and the CPN (UML) which are part of the ruling coalition — a month ago when they united to extend the tenure of the Constituent Assembly by a year. Nepal's Constituent Assembly had failed to deliver a Constitution by its initial deadline on May 28, 2010. The agreement called for Mr. Nepal's resignation — a key demand of the Maoists — and the formation of a consensus government.
Announcing his resignation, Mr. Nepal blamed the Maoists for not cooperating with the government.
“It is already late for the government to present its programmes and policies, and budget,” said Mr. Nepal. “In this situation, it would not be right to keep the country in a deadlock; so despite having a clear majority in the legislature Parliament in favour of this government, I have decided to resign from my post so that the peace process and Constitution-writing task are completed, and a path for consensus is paved.”
The Maoists had been saying they would obstruct the budget session, announced earlier, if Mr. Nepal did not resign.
In his address, Mr. Nepal hoped the Maoists would carry out the remaining tasks of the peace process as they had announced. He also wished success for political parties in forming a consensus government and drafting the Constitution. Later, he submitted his resignation to President Ram Baran Yadav. A press statement from the President's office said the present Council of Ministers would continue its work until a new government was formed.
Maoist spokesperson Dina Nath Sharma called Mr. Nepal's resignation a positive step towards completing the peace process and the task of Constitution writing. “We will work with other parties to form a national government,” he said. His party has been demanding a new consensus government under its leadership.
However, the party is facing internal disputes over the nomination of the next Prime Minister.
Officially, it has said the party chairman would lead the next government, but voices are being heard in support of vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bhattarai said his party would nominate a candidate and seek other parties' consensus. He, however, said his party was firm on leading the next government.
“Since the Maoists don't have a big position — the President belongs to Nepali Congress, Vice-President is of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, Chairman of the Constituent Assembly is from CPN (UML) — we deserve the post,” he said.
Talks are going on in other parties too on leading the new government. Though parties earlier maintained that only a joint national consensus government would address the nation's problems, differences in parties suggest that there could be a majority government.