KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal’s second largest party withdrew from the government Thursday to join its longtime rival in a new coalition, as pressure builds on the prime minister to resign.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), which is the second largest party, announced it was withdrawing support for Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. All their ministers resigned late Wednesday.

Leaders of the party and the Nepali Congress, the country’s largest party, had signed an agreement Tuesday to form a new partnership to govern for the remaining three years before general elections.

Dahal had been leading his shaky governing coalition since becoming prime minister in December 2022 following an inconclusive election where his party finished third. He took to switching coalition partners to keep his majority.

The Maoist leader survived a no confidence vote earlier in March, after a smaller party broke from its coalition. If he does not step down immediately, he would need to seek a confidence motion in a month.

It is Dahal’s third time in power since his Maoist group ended an armed revolt and joined mainstream politics in 2006.

Dahal, also known as Prachanda or the “fierce one,” led a violent Maoist communist insurgency from 1996 to 2006. More than 17,000 people were killed and the status of many others remains unknown.

After entering politics, Dahal’s party secured the most parliamentary seats in 2008 and he became prime minister but quit a year later over differences with the president.

Brought to you by www.srnnews.com