Nepal's Maoists had pressured the prime minister to resign since he replaced their leader a year ago. As the largest party in parliament, they hope to lead the next government.
Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP Photo
Nepal’s former Maoist rebels are seeking to return to power, one day after successfully pressuring Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to resign and a year after their coalition government collapsed over their leader Prachanda’s order to sack the Army chief.
President Ram Baran Yadav has given the political parties until July 7 to form a government based on political consensus.
The Maoists, who had been demanding Mr. Nepal’s resignation since he replaced Prachanda in May last year, welcomed the move and initiated talks to form an all-party government under their leadership.
As the largest party in parliament, the Maoists have a legitimate claim to lead the new government. But internal disputes could get in the way: Prachanda’s popularity plummeted after an unimpressive nine months in office last time around, and party members are calling for his deputy, Baburam Bhattarai, to be nominated as prime minister instead.
But “if rival parties support that call, Prachanda might force his party to stay in opposition,” says Narayan Wagle, editor of Nagarik daily.
Such an event would likely prolong the political deadlock that has stalled the country’s peace process for more than a year – and defeat the purpose of Mr. Nepal’s stepping down.
“The Maoists have been offered the opportunity to justify their claim that his government had hindered the peace process,” says Raghuji Pant, Mr. Nepal’s political adviser and senior leader of their party, the CPN-UML. “Let’s see how they fare.”