Tens of thousands of Maoists supporters are converging on Nepal's capital ahead of a May Day rally intended to topple the government of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal. In an exclusive interview with VOA News, Mr. Nepal outlined the conditions under which he is willing to resign.
Nepal's Prime Minister returned from a regional leaders' summit in Bhutan to find his government under increasing and intense pressure from the Maoists.
In an exclusive VOA interview aboard the commercial flight taking him back to Kathmandu, Mr. Nepal said he is willing to leave his post if it will help expedite the peace process, including the drafting of a new constitution, which is mandated by May 28.
"If someone comes forward and there's an understanding over any questions then it's better that there be a national consensus government involving all the people," he said.
Mr. Nepal's replacement would certainly be a Maoist or a prime minister of their choosing. The former rebels, despite winning the last national election in 2008, quit the government last year amid a dispute over how to integrate the former armed rebels into the army. But the Maoists still have the most seats in the country's parliament and appear poised to again lead a coalition government.
Police say tens of thousands of Maoist supporters are already in the capital preparing for a May Day protest that the former rebels promise will be peaceful.
Prime Minister Nepal tells VOA News soldiers will remain in their camps during the demonstration, but the army will be called out if the protests threaten democracy.
"If there is a danger of the capturing of power and there is a danger of the violation of the peace process then the state has to perform on its responsibility [and call out the army]," he said.
The Maoists say unless their demands are met they will institute a nationwide strike indefinitely from Sunday.
The Maoists fought a decade-long civil war with the state that ended in 2006 with a peace agreement. That brought the Maoists into the political mainstream, leading to the formation of a democratic republic and the toppling of the country's 250-year old monarchy.