Nepal's Prime Minister, Lokendra Bahadur Chand, resigned yesterday, plunging the Himalayan kingdom deeper into a political crisis that began in 2001 when nine members of the royal family were killed in a massacre.
King Gyanendra accepted the resignation of Mr Chand, which followed protests by opposition parties that his appointment by the King last October was unconstitutional.
The King began consultation to form a new cabinet, the palace said. He was due to hold an emergency meeting yesterday evening at the Narayanhiti palace in the capital, Kathmandu.
Mr Chand, a known pro-monarchist, took office after the King sacked an elected government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba, accusing him of incompetence.
"Despite the government moving in a positive direction, the political parties have failed to co-operate," Mr Chand told reporters. "My resignation, I hope, will pave the way to resolve the present conflict."
Five opposition party leaders planned to meet later yesterday to assess the situation, an official from the United Marxist Leninist Party of Nepal, the country's second largest party, said.