The crisis sparked after the prime minister said he would back an opposition party candidate for president.
Nepal’s deputy prime minister and three other ministers have resigned from the ruling coalition after Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said he planned to support a presidential candidate from an opposition party.
Rajendra Lingden, the deputy prime minister who was also minister for energy, water resources and irrigation, resigned on Saturday in protest, along with ministers for urban development and legal affairs, while a junior minister assisting Lingden also resigned.
“The coalition under which we joined the government is no longer intact,” Lingden told the Reuters news agency, adding that it would not be “appropriate for them to continue in government.”
Political analysts said the move did not suggest the fledgling government of Dahal, a former Maoist rebel who uses his nom de guerre Prachanda, was in any immediate trouble as he still enjoys majority support in parliament. However, they said the turmoil could lead to the formation of a new coalition.
On Friday, Dahal said he would support Ram Chandra Paudel of Nepal’s opposition Congress Party in next month’s presidential election, instead of the candidate of his coalition partner, the United Communist Marxist Leninist Party (UML). He did not give a reason for his decision, although Nepal’s Congress party is a longtime ally of Dahal’s Maoist Center party.
The prime minister’s office confirmed that the four ministers had resigned, but did not say whether the resignations had been accepted.
Parliamentary elections were held in November, but no party won a majority, leading to the formation of a coalition government headed by Dahal.
It is his third time in power since his Maoist group abandoned a decade-long armed revolt that killed more than 17,000 people and joined a United Nations-assisted peace process and mainstream politics in 2006.
The Maoists won a majority of parliamentary seats in the 2008 elections, and Dahal became prime minister. However, he resigned a year later due to differences with the president.
Nestled between China and India, Nepal has seen 11 governments since it abolished its 239-year-old monarchy in 2008 and became a republic. Political instability has spooked investors and slowed the growth of its $40 billion economy.