Jhala Nath Khanal is the third Nepali prime minister to step down in as many years. A mere five years after ending a decade-long civil war, the country seems to be no nearer to lasting peace. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
Khanal submitted his resignation to President Ram Baran Yadav after crumbling to mounting pressure from his political opponents and allies, fittingly on Gaijatra, a holiday celebrated in Nepal to mock the rich and the powerful.
Khanal’s resignation followed his failure to make progress on three key fronts: establishing a peace agreement between the government and the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army (the rebels who waged the 10-year civil war), integrating the rebels into the mainstream and writing a new constitution. Khanal’s predecessors had also failed to gain traction on these key areas.
The Maoists are Nepal’s single largest political party, but lack the numbers for an outright majority. Unsurprisingly, they are mistrusted by the so-called moderates, especially monarchist parties, who accuse them of land grabs and using violence as a political tool.
The clock is ticking for Nepal’s strained peace – not only does the country have to form a new government, but the current constitution expires at the end of August, at which point the parliament would have to be dissolved. To make things just a little more difficult, all the major parties in Nepal face massive internal divisions, and the Maoist rebels still live in camps in the countryside. It’s like a gigantic keg of gunpowder, just waiting for a spark to fall into it. DM
Photo: Nepalese Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal leaves after submitting his resignation to President Ram Baran Yadav at the president's quarters in Kathmandu August 14, 2011. Khanal will be addressing the parliament on Monday afternoon to announce his resignation, according to local media. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar.