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Nepal's prime minister resigns

By Manesh Shrestha, For CNN
  • Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal resigns amid pressure from his party, opposition
  • Khanal quit for "formation of a national consensus government," adviser says
  • Integration of Maoist combatants into security forces at issue
  • Nepal also faces the challenge of writing a new constitution

Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) -- Nepalese Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal submitted his resignation Sunday to President Ram Baran Yadav following pressure from his own party and the opposition.

Khanal had said earlier that he would resign by Saturday if there was no agreement among political parties over the future of nearly 20,000 Maoist combatants.

Four years ago, Maoist rebels signed a peace deal with the government in which the Maoist combatants would be integrated into security forces, but Nepal's political parties have yet to agree on the number to be integrated, the combatants' ranks and the relief package for those who do not want to be integrated.

"The prime minister resigned for the formation of a national consensus government," said Surya Thapa, press adviser to the prime minister.

In the last few days, the prime minister had held intense consultations with other political parties, but the talks yielded no result.

"The Maoists did not seem to be ready to agree on the various aspects of the integration of the combatants into the security forces," Thapa said.

Parliament elected Khanal in February after 17 rounds of voting.

No political party has a majority in parliament although the former rebels -- the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) -- became the biggest party in the 601-member body in elections in 2008.

Khanal earlier Sunday informed his party colleagues that he would resign and address parliament Monday.

Nepal also faces the challenge of writing a new constitution, with an extended deadline for the end of August. There has been little progress on the constitution, with fundamental differences between the Maoists and the other political parties.

Nepalis voted to end its centuries-old monarchy in 2008.

The political parties agree that a national consensus government should be formed to prepare a new constitution and decide the future of the Maoist combatants, but it is unclear who will lead it.

Both the Maoists and Nepali Congress, the second biggest party in parliament, claim to lead the government.

If there is no agreement between the parties over a national consensus government, two or more parties will have to form an alliance to get the support of the majority of lawmakers.