Nepal in Crisis as Prachanda Resigns

A day after he stirred controversy by firing army chief R. Katuwal for disobeying government orders, Maoist leader Pushpa Kamla Dahal ‘Prachanda’ on Monday resigned as prime minister of Nepal. He announced the decision at a press conference in Kathmandu.

Prachanda put in his papers following a stand-off, over the sacking of the top soldier, between Maoists and other allies in the ruling coalition.

The Maoist leader’s resignation comes as a massive blow to the Himalayan nation’s fragile democracy, which was just beginning to gather strength after stepping out of the shadows of the Royal palace.

Gen. Katuwal was issued his final marching orders on Sunday, the decision was taken at a cabinet meeting headed by Prachanda, notably several constituents of the ruling coalition were not present at the meeting.

The CPN (UML) pulled out of the coalition hours after Gen. Katuwal’s sacking was made public.

Prachanda’s orders, seeking the top soldier’s final salute, were not validated by President Ram Baran Yadav, who instructed Gen. Katuwal to continue serving in his present position.

The development is the culmination of a widening rift between Prachanda and Gen. Katuwal who has opposed governmental overtures seeking the induction of former Maoist rebels into the army.

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