Nepal PM Khanal quits amid political uncertainty

"The Prime Minister has tendered his resignation and the president has asked him to serve as the caretaker after accepting the resignation," President Ram Baran Yadav's press advisor Rajendra Dahal said.

The process of electing a new Prime Minister will start on Monday, the president's office said.

Earlier, 61-year-old Khanal told the CPN-UML leaders at the party's Central Committee meeting that he would step down today.

"I will quit as per my commitment," said the prime minister before the conclusion of the CPN-UML Central Committee meet.

"I will submit my resignation today itself, and address the House tomorrow," he said.
CPN-UML leader Khanal, who was elected prime minster on February 3 after 17 rounds of polls in Parliament, had said earlier this month that he would resign if there was "no concrete" progress on the 2006 peace process.

Khanal's coalition is the shortest Communist government in the country. Khanal served for just over six months in power, making his government the shortest that has ruled the country in the last decade.

The main opposition Nepali Congress, Khanal's key ally Maoists and the Terai-based Madhesi Front have been pressing him to honour his commitment to step down as part of the May 29 five-point deal he had signed while extending the term of the 601-member Assembly on May 28 by three months.

"There is no alternative to the PM's resignation," NC said Ram Sharan Mahat, the Nepali Congress leader said earlier today.

The Maoist party, the single largest group in parliament, and the Nepali Congress have claimed the right to lead a national government.

The Maoists have projected Vice Chairman Baburam Bhattarai as the next prime ministerial candidate.

They have been engaged in exercise to form the next government. Bhattarai has already started consultations with other political parties after the Maoist party.

Speaking at an interaction programme in the capital today, Bhattarai underlined the need to form a national consensus government to accomplish the tasks of concluding the peace process and drafting the new constitution.

Nepali Congress is yet to decide whom to back amid claims by both former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and Parliamentary Party leader Ramchandra Poudyal.

As both the Maoist and the CPN-UML have already got chance to lead the government after the Constituent Assembly elections held in 2008, now it’s the turn of the Nepali Congress to lead the government, Nepali Congress central committee member Bimalendra Nidhi said.

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