Crisis mounts in Nepal as Maoists step up protests | world | Hindustan Times
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Crisis mounts in Nepal as Maoists step up protests

Nepal Maoists vowed on Wednesday to step up protests and block a new government from forming unless the President supports the firing of the country’s army chief. President Ram Baran Yadav rejected a directive by PM Prachanda to fire the military chief, prompting the PM to resign throwing the Himalayan country into crisis.

world Updated: May 06, 2009 16:41 IST

Nepal’s Maoists vowed on Wednesday to step up protests and block a new government from forming unless the President supports the firing of the country’s army chief, a party official said.

President Ram Baran Yadav refused on Sunday to honor a directive by communist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal to fire the country’s military chief, prompting Dahal to resign on Monday throwing the Himalayan country into crisis.

Supporters of Dahal’s Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) held street demonstrations in Katmandu on Monday and Tuesday, and the party’s lawmakers shut down parliament by gathering in the front of the assembly hall and chanting slogans.

Maoist lawmaker Barsa Man Pun said the lawmakers would continue to block parliament proceedings, making it impossible for a new prime minister to be voted in.

“There will be more protests until the president withdraws his unconstitutional decision,” he said.

Political parties held crisis talks Tuesday in Katmandu to try to form a new coalition government, but the Maoists have stayed away from the meetings.

“There is no meaning of holding these consultations until the issue is resolved,” Pun said.

Dahal’s party is the largest in parliament but it does not have a clear majority to rule. His resignation this week prompted his party to leave the ruling coalition and caused the government to collapse.

The president belongs to Nepali Congress party, the country’s second-largest party after the Maoists, which is leading coalition talks with the Maoists’ former allies in parliament.

The Maoists fought a bloody 10-year war before joining the political mainstream in 2006. They won the most votes during parliamentary elections last year and then abolished the centuries-old monarchy.

Many of the movement’s fighters remain confined to U.N.-monitored barracks. Under a peace accord brokered by the world body, they were supposed to be integrated into the military.

Dahal had attempted to fire Army Chief Rookmangud Katawal because he refused to enlist the rebels in the military, but Yadav overruled the decision.

In his resignation speech, Dahal accused Yadav of “a fatal attack on the infant democracy.” He claimed the president had no power to act as he did without the prior approval of Cabinet.

“The unconstitutional and undemocratic move by the president has pushed the country toward a serious political crisis,” Dahal said.