After keeping everyone guessing, Nepal Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal failed to stick to his self-imposed deadline of resigning by Saturday midnight.
Unless a last minute agreement is reached on the peace process and formation of a national consensus government, Khanal is now likely to quit office on Monday after addressing the parliament.
“If there’s no progress in the peace process and formation of a consensual government, the Prime Minister will possibly resign on Monday,” Khanal’s media advisor Surya Thapa told HT.
Khanal had announced on August 1 that he would leave office on August 13 if there was no significant progress in the stalled peace process. He reiterated his decision in writing in parliament on August 10.
Khanal’s announcement was aimed at putting pressure on Maoists, the dominant coalition partner, to address contentious issues of the peace process related to integration and rehabilitation of former Maoist combatants.
But with Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) refusing to bail him out, the PM had no option but to stick to his announcement.
The lifeline came on Saturday evening with coalition partners urging Khanal not to quit till parties arrive at a consensus on his replacement. The fact that Sunday is a public holiday also worked in his favour.
Meanwhile marathon meetings are underway among parties to take the peace process forward and agree on who would head the next government.
As both Khanal and his predecessor belong to Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), Maoists and Nepali Congress are now engaged in a race to head the next government.
“On Sunday morning, leaders from UCPN (M), CPN (UML), NC and Madhesi parties conferred to find a consensus. Another meeting is scheduled in the evening,” said Thapa.
The fate of the six-month old Khanal government was sealed on May 28 when the three major parties, UCPN (M), NC and CPN (UML) inked a five-point deal to extend the Contituent Assembly’s tenure till August 31.
Besides agreeing to complete the peace process and draft the new constitution by that deadline, the deal had also agreed on formation of a national consensus government to replace Khanal and his team.
Jhalanath Khanal had got elected to the PM’s post on February 3 with Maoist support after signing a secret deal with Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ on sharing power.