Former Nepal PM Oli's party CPN-UML withdraws support to Prachanda-led government
Paudel is from the Nepali Congress, an opposition party, and from outside the ruling alliance. Nepal's Presidential election will be held on March 9
Nepal's second largest party in Parliament - CPN-UML - on Monday decided to withdraw its support to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda"-led government in the wake of a renewed political equation in the run-up to the presidential election, dealing a jolt to the two-month-old ruling coalition.
"A high-level meeting of the party held under the leadership of party chief K P Sharma Oli on Monday decided to quit the government and withdraw the party's support to the Prachanda-led government," Bishnu Rijal, deputy chief of the party's central publicity committee, told PTI.
The prime reason for the break-up of the alliance between Prachanda and former prime minister Oli was because the Maoist leader decided to support senior Nepali Congress (NC) candidate Ram Chandra Paudel for the President's post.
Paudel is from the Nepali Congress, an opposition party, and from outside the ruling alliance. Nepal's Presidential election will be held on March 9.
As Prime Minister Prachanda violated the December 25 agreement while forming the seven-party coalition government and betrayed the Communist Party of Nepal-(Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN-UML), the party took the decision to leave the government, Rijal said.
"The UML ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bishnu Poudyal and Foreign Minister Bimala Rai Poudyal, are in the process of tendering resignation to the Prime Minister," he added.
There were eight UML ministers including Deputy Prime Minister in the Prachanda-led incumbent government and all of them are resigning en masse.
The exit of CPN-UML may not immediately affect the Prachanda-led government, which is supported by the Nepali Congress (NC) which has 89 lawmakers in the House.
Meanwhile, Rashtriya Swatantra Party led by former TV journalist Ravi Lamichhane has decided to continue its support to the government. The party's high-level meeting on Monday decided to back the Prachanda-led government, said Biraj Bhakta Shrestha, deputy Parliamentary Party leader of RSP.
In the 275-member House, the UML has 79 lawmakers while CPN (Maoist Center) has 32. CPN (Unified Socialist) and Rashtriya Swatantra Party have 10 and 20 members, respectively. Janamat Party has 6 members, Loktantrik Samajbadi Party 4 and Nagarik Unmukti Party 3 members in the parliament.
With the three major parties, NC (89), CPN-Maoist Centre (32) and RSP (20), the government has support of at least 141 lawmakers.
Prachanda needs only 138 votes in parliament to continue as the prime minister.
UML's vice-chairman Bishnu Prasad Paudel claimed that Prime Minister Prachanda used pressure tactics on the UML ministers to quit the government, which forced them to withdraw support, according to My Republica newspaper.
He said Prachanda warned that if the CPN-UML does not leave the government, he would immediately dismiss the ministers or even appoint departmental ministers without them, the report said.
He alleged that Prime Minister Dahal demonstrated immaturity by stopping Foreign Minister Paudyal, who was about to visit Geneva, at the eleventh hour.
Paudyal, who is from the UML party, was scheduled to fly to Geneva to attend a high-level session of the UN Human Rights Council. However, Prime Minister Prachanda asked her to cancel the visit. This move by Prachanda riled the Oli-led party even further.
"We have taken this decision because Prime Minister Prachanda did not proceed according to the agreement of December 25 and exerted pressure on us to leave the government," Vice-chairman Paudel said.
Prachanda, the 68-year-old CPN-Maoist Centre leader, was sworn in as the Prime Minister for the third time on December 26 last year after he dramatically walked out of the pre-poll alliance led by the Nepali Congress and joined hands with opposition leader Oli.
Prime Minister Prachanda's party, which contested the November 20 parliamentary and provincial elections as a partner of the five-party alliance led by the Nepali Congress, left the alliance after it refused to give Prachanda any of the two key posts --- the president or the prime minister.
Prachanda then forged an alliance with CPN-UML led by 71-year-old Oli to form the government.
Oli has claimed that while backing Prachanda's bid for prime minister last year, it was agreed upon that the post of President would go to the member of his party.
Paudel also accused Prachanda of not wanting political stability in the country as he was not ready to honour the agreement reached with the party earlier, My Republica report added.
Meanwhile, Prachanda cancelled his first foreign visit to Qatar due to some "important political engagements" at home, officials said on Monday, amidst a threat to the stability of his coalition government ahead of the presidential election.
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