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Nepal's Premier Resigns Amid Criticism on Several Fronts

July 20, 2001|Associated Press

KATMANDU, Nepal — The prime minister of Nepal stepped down Thursday, blamed for a bungled operation against Maoist insurgents, tangled up in a bribery scandal and accused of not adequately protecting this Himalayan kingdom's massacred royal family.

Girija Prasad Koirala, 76, said he wanted to help bring more stability to Nepal, which embraced democracy 11 years ago.

Koirala tendered his resignation to King Gyanendra. The constitutional monarch accepted the resignation but asked Koirala to remain as the caretaker premier.

Koirala's term was beset by a bribery scandal involving the national airline's lease of a plane and by increasing attacks by guerrillas fighting for a communist republic.

The royal massacre, in which the previous king, Birendra, and other royals were slain by Crown Prince Dipendra, who later turned the gun on himself, was also a blow to the government's credibility.

The ruling Nepali Congress will meet today to set dates for the election of a new party leader.

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