Nepal plunged into a major political crisis, hours after Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai disbanded parliament with five political parties challenging the move to hold fresh elections, as the president reviewed the legality of the step.
As the landlocked country faced a power vacuum after parliament missed the midnight deadline to frame a new constitution President Ram Baran Yadav described the dissolution as "unfortunate and matter of serious concern and regret."
The new constitution was intended to create a new secular and democratic republic following abolition of the country's centuries old monarchy.
Leaders of the five political parties, including the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, described Bhattarai's unilateral move to hold fresh elections as "unconstitutional".
"The prime minister's unilateral move to conduct fresh election by allowing to dissolve the most representative Constituent Assembly was aimed at capturing power and this has created frustration in the minds of the general public," said a joint statement issued by five parties.
"It has ended the politics of consensus and created a situation in which people's democratic rights are suppressed," said the statement signed by NC vice chairman Ramchandra Poudyal, CPN-UML President Jhala Nath Khanal, Rastriya Janata
Party leader, president of Madhesi Peoples' Rights Forum Nepal Upendra Yadav and leader of Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum Democratic Sharad Singh Bhandari.
The leaders have demanded Bhattarai's resignation to help create an atmosphere of consensus and to find a way out of the present political crisis.
They issued the statement Sunday mid-night after holding consultation with President Ram Baran Yadav, shortly after the prime minister's move.
The statement said there was no provision in the interim constitution to hold fresh constituent assembly elections and demanded a national unity government.
They said the prime minister should have made amendments before announcing fresh polls.
"We are not opposed to going to the poll but we cannot endorse the Prime Minister's unilateral move that violates the constitutional provision," CPN-UML Bhim Rawal told PTI.
Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, Nepal Pariwar Dal, Rastriya Janata Party have also withdrawn support to the government as soon as Bhattarai made announcement for the fresh polls.
The move to dissolve the parliament would leave Nepal under a lame duck deeply divided caretaker government, which has no mandate and no parliament to pass laws.
Faced with a massive constitutional crisis, the president remained huddled with legal experts.
The continued political instability in the country came in for sharp rebuke from the country's media, who described disbanding of parliament as "biggest blow to democracy in Nepal".
"The political class stands discredited," Republica daily screamed. The paper said, "Parties see election call as Maoist ploy to capture state powers."