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Nepal's Maoists to allow vote for prime minister

Nepal's communists have agreed to stop blocking parliament proceedings so that lawmakers can choose a new government to ease the country's political crisis, the parliament speaker said on Thursday.

world Updated: May 21, 2009 12:16 IST

Nepal's communists have agreed to stop blocking parliament proceedings so that lawmakers can choose a new government to ease the country's political crisis, the parliament speaker said on Thursday.

However, lawmakers from the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) said that although they agreed to lift their protests for Thursday, they would permanently end them only on condition that the chamber take up a motion censuring President Ram Baran Yadav.

The country's Maoist prime minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, sparked the latest political upheavel early this month when he resigned to protest Yadav's refusal to fire the country's army chief in a dispute over integrating former Maoist rebels into the military.

The Maoist lawmakers who represent the Himalayan nation's ex-rebels had held up the selection of a new prime minister, but were now agreeing to allow the process to go forward, parliament Speaker Subash Nemwang said on Thursday.

An alliance of 22 political parties have already named veteran communist leader Madhav Kumar Nepal as their candidate for the prime minister. The alliance claims to have the support of 350 lawmakers in the 601-seat parliament, more than the simple majority required to be elected.

Maoist spokesman Dinanath Sharma said his party's delegation would lift its demonstrations in the assembly hall only if lawmakers take up a motion accusing Yadav of violating the constitution when he blocked Dahal's order to fire army chief Gen. Rookmangud Katawal.

Dahal had accused Katawal of blocking moves to integrate ex-rebels into the army, which was a condition of a peace agreement that led to the rebels give up their armed revolt three years ago.

However, the motion against the president is largely symbolic and cannot force him out of office.
The Maoists ended their bloody 10-year insurgency in 2006 to join a peace process. The group then came to power through general elections in 2008.

Dahal was scheduled to address parliament on Thursday.