Communist ally quits government after Nepal poll debacle

April 16th, 2008 - 8:08 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, April 16 (IANS) The first fallout of Nepal’s historic election on the coalition government of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala came Wednesday with one of the major partners in the alliance quitting the cabinet after a humiliating poll rout at the hands of the Maoists. The Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) was the third largest party in parliament before last Thursday’s constituent assembly election.

But now struggling to cross the half-century mark in the race for 240 directly fought seats, the UML recalled its seven ministers from the government.

Led by the most senior communist minister, foreign minister Sahana Pradhan, four other ministers and two assistant ministers met the prime minister Wednesday evening and tendered their resignation.

The other ministers include Pradip Nepal, education and sports minister, who was defeated at the polls, culture, tourism and civil aviation minister Prithvi Subba Gurung, who however won, Chhabilal Bishwokarma, agriculture minister, Ram Chandra Yadav, agriculture minister, Mohan Singh Rathore, minister of state for education, and Nagendra Chaudhuri, minister of state for agriculture.

However, the prime minister, who advised the communist leaders to reconsider their decision, did not accept the resignations immediately.

The UML had announced it would quit the government after its stalwarts, including its chief and former deputy prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal were humbled at the hustings.

Madhav Kumar Nepal, defeated from both his constituencies by little-known Maoist rivals, also resigned as party chief.

The communist move comes at a time the winning Maoists said they would work in cooperation with all parties and continue with a coalition government till the newly elected constituent assembly drafted a new constitution.

However, the UML said it could join a coalition led by the Maoists, depending on the “behaviour” of the former guerrillas.

Madhav Kumar Nepal and his lieutenants held consultations with Koirala Wednesday morning to discuss if their two parties would stay in a Maoist-dominated government.

As counting continued on the sixth day, the Maoists had won 119 of the 222 seats declared so far, with Koirala’s Nepali Congress claiming 33 seats and the UML 31.

However, the UML was improving its performance in the second phase of election, to be determined by proportional representation.

In this race for 335 seats, they had inched ahead of the NC.

Two other minor communist parties, Jana Morcha and Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, had respectively captured three and two seats.

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