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Nepal PM quits amid political unrest

NEW DELHI, 4 May 2009: Nepal’s Maoist prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal resigned today amid deepening political differences among leaders in the Himalayan state, as the country slipped into political unrest.

His announcement came just a day after he sacked Nepal’s army chief, Gen Rookmangud Katawal, after he refused to integrate ex-Maoist fighters into the army.

Dahal, also popularly known as Prachanda, fired the army general but Nepal’s president Ram Baran Yadav rejected the chief’s resignation and ordered him to return to office, which was a major blow to the premier.

“I have resigned from the post of prime minister from today for the protection of democracy and peace,” Prachanda told the nation in a televised address in the capital.

The ruling Maoist had demanded that about 19,000 of its fighters be included in the army — a core issue of the rift between Prachanda, the army chief and the president, which stirred the current political turmoil in the world’s youngest republic.

Nepal abandoned the 200-year-old monarchy system and adopted a democratic republic state last year and ended a 10-year-old civil war between government forces and Maoist insurgents.

Speaking to Bernama from Kathmandu, Malaysian ambassador in Nepal Datuk Ilankovan Kolandavelu said the situation was rather tense but under control as security forces were on full alert across the country.

“A temporary curfew was imposed last night but was lifted later. The situation is tense as pro-army general supporters and Maoist supporters continue to clash in the streets.

“But all Malaysians are safe and sound. There are in total about 20 Malaysians, including three students. Our embassy is in constant touch with the Malaysians,” he added. — Bernama

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