Nepal’s Maoist prime minister resigned Wednesday as part of a planned handover to a former political foe who will be the impoverished nation’s tenth leader since the end of the civil war in 2006.
‘I announce my resignation from the post of prime minister today, right now, with a pledge to continue being active for the upliftment of the country and the people as a politician, parliamentarian and a citizen,’ Dahal said in a televised speech in which he catalogued his government’s achievements.
Dahal, who still goes by his nom de guerre Prachanda, or ‘fierce one’, had promised to step down after holding local elections as part of the agreement that brought him to power last August.
Local elections were held in three of the country’s seven provinces 10 days ago.
Deuba’s appointment is expected to be confirmed in a parliamentary vote within the next 10 days.
Dahal, 62, came to power after withdrawing support from the then-government and realigning his Maoist party with Deuba’s centre-right Nepali Congress. It was an uncomfortable alliance – at the height of the civil war Deuba, then prime minister, had announced a five million rupee ($50,000) bounty for Dahal’s capture, dead or alive.
As part of the agreement that brought Dahal to power, the Maoist leader promised to hold long-delayed local elections before handing the premiership to Deuba.
But Dahal split the local polls – the first in 20 years – into two phases because of the threat of violence from ethnic minority groups in the southern plains bordering India.
Dahal had come to power promising to address the grievances of the Madhesi minority, who say the current political system leaves them marginalised, by amending the constitution – a promise he has failed to keep.
The repeated delays prompted an alliance of parties representing the ethnic group to quit the ruling coalition in March.
Only the first phase of the local polls has so far been held. The second is scheduled for June 14 but the Madhesi parties have said they will boycott it unless the constitutional amendment is passed.
The local elections will pave the way for provincial and national polls, which must be held by January 2018 – the final step in the drawn-out peace process.
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