Nepal Prime Minister Resigns Amid Maoist Pressure

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.

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.

Nepal's Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal waits to meet Nepal's President Ram Baran Yadav after announcing his resignation in Katmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, June 30, 2010. Nepal announced his resignation Wednesday, bowing to pressure from opposition Maoists who have been demanding his ouster in parliament and on the streets. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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.

Nepali Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, center, speaks during a televised speech at his official residence in Katmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, June 30, 2010. Nepal announced his resignation, bowing to pressure from opposition Maoists who have been demanding his ouster in parliament and on the streets. Nepal said in the speech that he decided to resign to end political deadlock and shore up the peace process that ended years of Maoist insurgency in the Himalayan nation. Also seen are his cabinet colleagues Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Guchadhar, second right, Education Minister Surbendra Nath Sukla, right, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala, second left, and Home minister Bhim Rawal, left. (AP Photo/Binod Joshi)

"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."

Nepal's Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal takes a seat before a televised speech announcing his resignation at his official residence in Katmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, June 30, 2010. Nepal announced his resignation Wednesday, bowing to pressure from opposition Maoists who have been demanding his ouster in parliament and on the streets. Also seen are cabinet colleagues Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Guchadhar, third right, education minister Surbendar Nath Sukla, second right, and Supply Minister Rajendra Kumar Mahato. (AP Photo/Binod Joshi)

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.

Nepal's Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal leaves after announcing his resignation at his official residence in Katmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, June 30, 2010. Nepal announced his resignation Wednesday, bowing to pressure from opposition Maoists who have been demanding his ouster in parliament and on the streets. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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.