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Resignation leaves political vacuum

Nepal's major political parties disagree on who should replace the prime minister who resigned on Sunday, pushing the country back into the long political crisis that has left it without a constitution or a stable government.

It took 17 votes in parliament over seven months to get Jhalnath Khanal elected prime minister in February because of the fierce infighting among the parties. He resigned after failing to make progress toward adopting a constitution or bringing reconciliation to this politically tumultuous South Asia nation.

The three major parties have said they plan to hold talks on naming a new prime minister, but each insisted it should lead any new coalition government. None of the political parties have a parliamentary majority, making it necessary for any new prime minister to form a coalition.

Dev Gurung, a leader of the Maoists, the largest party in parliament, said they would sit down for negotiations with other political parties but would insist their deputy leader, Baburam Bhattari, should be the prime minister.

Laxman Ghimire of the Nepali Congress, the second-largest party, said his party should lead the new government because the two other major parties failed when they led the most recent governments.

"There is little hope for an early agreement, but we will initiate dialogue with other parties in our attempt to form a consensus government," he said.

The political uncertainty has made it impossible for the poor nation to write a constitution that would complete its transformation from a kingdom to a republic and to cement the peace process that ended the decade-long civil war with the Maoists, who have since joined politics.

The lawmakers have twice extended the deadline for writing the new constitution and face a third deadline at the end of the month that they are expected to miss.

Mr Khanal, who was chosen to help break the deadlock, faced demands that he step down from the opposition Nepali Congress party, which accused him of failing to live up to his promises to move forward the peace process in the Himalayan nation. The opposition had blocked parliament since late last month demanding Mr Khanal's resignation.

He had also faced turmoil from within his own party and the main coalition partner - the Maoists - since the day he took office. They were not happy with the distribution of ministerial portfolios.


From Belfast Telegraph