Nepal parties meet to address political crisis.

Nepal’s political parties held crisis talks Tuesday on forming a new coalition government after the prime minister resigned in a power struggle with the president over enlisting former Maoist rebels into the military.

Hundreds of police were deployed around President Ram Baran Yadav’s office and detained about 40 protesters who rallied there in violation of a ban, police official Govind Pathak said.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal — the former leader of Nepal’s Maoist rebels — resigned Monday in a dispute with Yadav over firing the country’s military chief. Dahal wanted him sacked because of his refusal to enlist former Maoist rebels into the military, but Yadav overruled the decision.

Nepal’s Maoists fought a bloody 10-year war against the government before joining the political mainstream in 2006, and then winning the most votes during parliamentary elections last year that helped bring an end to the Himalayan country’s centuries-old monarchy.

However, many of the movements fighters remained confined to U.N.-monitored barracks under a peace accord.

Dahal’s Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is the largest party in parliament but it does not have a clear majority, and his resignation pulled his party out of the ruling coalition and collapsed the government.

Political parties held crisis talks Tuesday in Katmandu to try set up a new coalition.

Nepali Congress, the second largest party after the Maoists, pledged their support to Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist), the third biggest party, said Ram Sharan Mahat of the Nepali Congress.

These parties would still need the support of other parties to form the new government.

Yadav, who is from the Nepali Congress party, was set to formally ask party leaders to come forward and stake their claim to a new government later Tuesday, his adviser Lalit Bahadur Basnet said.

In his resignation speech, Dahal accused Yadav of “a fatal attack on the infant democracy.”

“The unconstitutional and undemocratic move by the president has pushed the country toward a serious political crisis,” Dahal said. “The president has no power to act alone without prior approval of the Cabinet on such matters.”

He said he stepped down “to create a conducive environment and save the peace process.”

The Maoists have vowed to launch demonstrations and shut down the parliament in protest of the president’s actions.

Dahal had wanted former Maoist guerrillas freed from U.N.-monitored barracks and integrated into the military, as prescribed under a U.N.-brokered peace agreement. But army chief Rookmangud Katawal resisted those efforts and sparred repeatedly with the government.

Dahal, who took office in August, fired Katawal on Sunday, prompting a key political party to withdraw from the Maoist-led ruling coalition. Hours later, Yadav reversed the decision — provoking Dahal’s resignation.


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