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Nepal’s Security Minister Resigns

July 13, 2001

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) _ Nepal’s interior minister resigned Friday, citing differences with the prime minister over handling the country’s Maoist insurgency.

Ram Chandra Poudel, who commands a 42,000-strong police force, has been severely criticized for failing to quell the Maoist rebels, who are demanding that Nepal’s constitutional monarchy be replaced by a communist republic.

Poudel told parliament that differences with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on how to deal with the five-year insurgency led to his stepping down as interior and deputy prime minister.

More than 1,600 rebels, security personnel and civilians have been killed in the insurgency since it began in 1996. The rebels, who model themselves after Peru’s Shining Path guerrillas, have intensified their attacks on the police in recent days.

``I wanted the prime minister to seek a national consensus between all the political parties in parliament so that the democratic forces could get together to fight against the anti-democratic elements,″ Poudel said. ``But that did not happen.

``In a situation where I see no hope of resolving the problems, I feel it would not be appropriate to continue in my position, so I am resigning.″

Poudel’s resignation comes as pressure mounts on Koirala to resign over a bribery scandal and the June 1 royal palace massacre of 10 royal family members, including King Birendra and Queen Aiswarya.

The opposition says that unless Koirala resigns there can be no understanding with the government. They have been holding protests in the parliament and in the streets.

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