Nepalese PM resigns in tiff over army chief

By Pradeep Kaphle
Special to Peter's New York

NEPAL, Monday, May 4, 2009--Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal today announced that he is resigning from his post in the wake of new political developments after President Ram Baran Yadav vetoed the government's decision to sack army chief Rookmangud Katawal.

Dahal, who also goes by the name Prachanda, made his announcement in an address to the nation at Singh Durbar this afternoon, less than 24 hours after two coalition partners, CPN-UML and the Sadbhavana Party, pulled out of the government protesting the government decision.

"I am ready to make any kind of sacrifices needed to protect the republican setup which is still in its infant stage, and for the sake of the country," Dahal said in the address, adding that it is not appropriate to remain in the government when there clearly exist two ruling powers (executive and president) in the country.

Describing President Yadav's move yesterday to override the government's decision to sack the army chief as "unconstitutional," Dahal said it has dealt serious blow to democracy, the peace process and the newly established republican order, and asked him to rectify his decision.

Saying that a constitutional president has no right to block the decisions of an elected government, Dahal also accused Yadav of acting under the provocation of parties.

Clearly referring to key coalition partner CPN-UML and the Sadbhavana Party, which pulled out of the government following the government's move, he said his government was unable to do the kind of work expected from it because of the tendency of some leaders of the political parties to go with the government's decision at first, but then immediately back away from it after coming under the pressure of the foreign power centers. He said this is what happened in the army chief episode.

He didn't say who the foreign powers were that have been influencing the decision of the parties, but claimed that "various power centers exercise their influence in Nepal."

"However, we won't tolerate interference in Nepal's internal affairs," he said.

Saying that his party was committed to democracy, human rights and press freedom, Dahal also stressed that political parties need to move ahead in consensus and cooperation with each other in the coming days.