KATMANDU, Nepal — Nepal's prime minister resigned after bowing to months of pressure from opposition communists who demanded his ouster in parliament and in sometimes-violent street protests.
Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned Wednesday to end crippling political deadlock and shore up a peace process that ended 10 years of communist insurgency, which killed an estimated 13,000 people in the Himalayan nation.
The Maoists, the former communist rebels who won the most seats in 2008 elections, protested for months demanding Nepal's resignation and a new national government headed by them.
"The prime minister should have resigned a lot earlier, however, we welcome the resignation," Maoist spokesman Dinanath Sharma said.
The communists called a meeting of their top leaders Thursday to decide their next move, Sharma said.
The prime minister took over the post in May 2009 after the previous government led by the Maoists resigned following differences with the president over the firing of the army chief.
The prime minister had the support of 22 political parties in parliament and more than half of the 601 members in the assembly. However the Maoists, who have the largest number of seats in the assembly, refused to support his government and instead staged protests demanding the disbanding of the government.
"I had frequently urged the political parties including the Maoists to find an appropriate way out of the present deadlock and forge a consensus. But no agreement has been reached so far," Nepal said. "As it would be inappropriate to further prolong the situation of confusion and indecision, I decided to resign from the post of prime minister to help accomplish the tasks of constitution drafting and the peace process."
In May, the Maoists called a general strike that shut down the nation for more than a week. Street demonstrations turned violent with clashes between communist supporters and police.
The protests also delayed the writing of a new constitution, which was supposed to be completed by May 2010. The deadline was extended by a year.
It is not clear who will succeed the prime minister, but the main political parties are likely to hold negotiations to form a government that includes most parties in parliament.
The Maoists ended their decade-old rebellion in 2006 and joined a peace process. Since then they confined their fighters to U.N.-monitored camps and joined mainstream politics.
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