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Friday, 18 February, 2000, 15:31 GMT
Resignations spark Nepal crisis

Krishna Prasad Bhattarai being sworn in as Prime Minister Prime Minister Bhattarai taking the oath of office

By Sushil Sharma in Kathmandu

The nine-month old government of Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Bhattarai in Nepal has been plunged into crisis by the resignation of eleven ministers.

The resignation comes two days after a group of dissident MPs of the governing Nepali Congress called for the replacement of Mr Bhattarai as the leader of the parliamentary party.

Those stepping down today are five cabinet ministers and six junior ministers.

One of the senior ministers who resigned said that they saw no justification in remaining in office when majority MPs of the governing party had expressed no-confidence in the Prime Minister, KP Bhattarai.

Urged to go

The Water Resources Minister, Govinda Raj Joshi, urged Mr Bhattarai to step down.

Earlier on Wednesday, 58 of the 113 MPs of the governing Nepali Congress registered a no-confidence motion against Mr Bhattarai in the party¿s parliamentary office.

The dissident MPs said that the government had failed to deliver goods.

The parliamentary party¿s crucial meeting will be held on Monday to debate and vote on the no-confidence motion.

But Mr Bhattarai has asked for the meeting to be deferred, and a spokesman said that the prime minister might boycott the meeting if it was not deferred to another date.

Mr Bhattarai is in a minority in the governing party and is certain to be defeated in the vote of no-confidence motion.

Majority need But this alone will not be enough to force him out of office.

Under Nepal's constitution, a prime minister can be removed only by a majority in parliament.

The Nepalese parliament has 205 members.

But defeat in his own party could mount moral pressure on Mr Bhattarai to step down.

Mr Bhattarai became prime minister after he was unanimously elected leader of the Nepali Congress parliamentary party, following the party¿s majority win in the last year¿s general elections.

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See also:
30 Jun 99 |  South Asia
Nepal PM expands cabinet
31 May 99 |  South Asia
Bhattarai sworn in as Nepal PM
31 Dec 98 |  South Asia
Nepal: Instability breeds poverty
13 May 99 |  South Asia
Nepal's women back democracy
14 May 99 |  South Asia
Stability key to Nepali election

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