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Nepal: Koirala steps down as prime minister

By Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu
Last updated on: June 26, 2008 21:28 IST
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Nepalese Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on Thursday resigned from his post, ending a two-month long deadlock to pave the way for the country's first ever Maoist-led government.

Koirala, 83, announced his resignation while addressing the Constituent Assembly, which was elected in April to rewrite the constitution and govern the Himalayan nation, Nepali Congress Assembly member Tirtha Ram Dangol said.

During his address he called on all political parties to move ahead on the basis of consensus and cooperation.

Koirala will continue as interim head of state until a new president is elected by the Assembly after amending the Interim Constitution.

The patriarch was chosen as the prime minister by the country's unity government in April 2006 after the then monarch Gyanendra was forced to give up absolute rule following massive public protests and oversaw the peace process that brought the Maoists into mainstream.

Koirala was again chosen as prime minister by the interim Assembly last year to head a government inclusive of the Maoists. Koirala also tabled the historic motion to declare Nepal a republic by abolishing the 240-year-old Hindu monarchy during the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly on May 28.

The government on Thursday tabled a motion to amend the Interim Constitution in the Assembly to pave way for forming a new government led by Maoists.

The new provision allows the new prime minister, president and vice president by a simple majority in the Assembly. Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda, the Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, the largest party with 229 seats in the 601 member- Constituent Assembly has claimed the post of Prime Minister.

Dahal needs at least 301 votes to become the Prime Minister. However, it will take a few days to amend the constitution as Assembly members will first debate the amendment proposal.

Meanwhile, Madhesi parties which are demanding greater political and economic rights for the the Indian origin people of Terai surrounded the rostrum of the Constituent Assembly in protest against the amendment, which they think does not address the issues raised by the community.

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Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu
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