Nepal’s Maoist Prime Minister Resigns

Article Date: 
4 May 2009

Nepal’s prime minister resigned on Monday amid a power struggle over his firing of the army chief, saying he was stepping down to salvage democracy in the country and the peace process that brought the Himalayan nation out of a bloody decade-long civil war.

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Prachanda’s party entered into competitive politics after signing a peace deal in 2006, ending a decade-long Maoist rebellion. He became prime minister in August after four months of political wrangling; in May, the nation’s elected constituent assembly declared the nation a federal republic, ending 239 years of Hindu monarchy.

But despite the Maoists’ rise to power, over 19,000 of their former fighters remain restricted to United Nations-monitored barracks under a peace accord.

Prachanda, whose name means “the fierce one” in Nepali, wanted the guerrillas freed and integrated into the military, as prescribed under a U.N.-brokered peace agreement. But the army chief resisted those efforts and sparred repeatedly with the government.

The disagreement over the army chief fractured the nation’s ruling coalition on Sunday, and analysts said it put a serious question mark over the government’s ability to keep the ex-combatants in their cantonments.

The Communist Party of Nepal, the a unified Marxist-Leninist party that holds the second highest number of seats in the 601-member Constituent Assembly, pulled out of the government on Sunday, accusing the Maoists of acting unilaterally.