Nepal's Maoists Search for Coalition Partners

Nepal's Maoist party is reaching out to other political parties to form a new coalition government, a day after the country's prime minister resigned.

The Maoists, who hold a majority in parliament, met Thursday in Kathmandu. The former rebels established a three-member committee headed by Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal to negotiate with other parties on the formation of a new government.

President Rambaran Yadav has asked all parties to reach an agreement on a unity government by July 7.

Nepal's prime minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal, said Wednesday he was stepping down to facilitate the peace process that ended a decade-long Maoist insurgency and allowed the former rebels to join the government.

The Maoist party had been calling for the prime minister to resign so it could return to power as head of a unity government.

On Thursday, the United Nations and the United States emphasized that Nepal's peace process must move forward.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraged all parties in Nepal to form a consensus government that would prioritize the implementation of all peace process commitments. U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the prime minister's departure may give the Nepalese people an opportunity to come to an agreement.

A Maoist-led government fell last year following a dispute over the integration of former Maoist rebels into the national army.

The Maoists ended their decade-long violent insurgency in 2006, and went on to win elections in 2008. But they did not gain a working majority in parliament.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.