Nepal's parliament speaker resigns after woman alleges rape

Woman accuses Krishna Bahadur Mahara of assaulting her while drunk at her apartment in capital Kathmandu on Sunday.

    Krishna Bahadur Mahara is a senior member of the ruling Nepal Communist Party [File: Reuters]
    Krishna Bahadur Mahara is a senior member of the ruling Nepal Communist Party [File: Reuters]

    The speaker of Nepal's parliament has stepped down after a female employee of the parliament secretariat accused him of rape.

    Krishna Bahadur Mahara, a senior member of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, said on Tuesday he was stepping down to allow an "impartial and independent investigation into the allegations that have come forward in media reports ... until the probe is complete".

    The woman accused Mahara of assaulting her while drunk at her apartment in the capital Kathmandu on Sunday, Kathmandu police chief Uttam Subedi said.

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    Following the complaint, the police began an investigation into the woman's accusation against the speaker, he said.

    In a video interview published by a local news portal, the woman said that an intoxicated Mahara arrived at her rented home on Sunday night and persuaded her to drink alcohol before assaulting her.

    "I had not thought it would come to this. He forced himself [on me]... He left after I said I will call the police," she said in the interview.

    The woman also showed apparent bruises on her arms, hands and feet.

    Mahara's aide Dilli Malla denied the allegations in a statement issued on Tuesday morning, saying it was "an attempt to assassinate the character of the speaker".

    Mahara, a former Maoist rebel, was elected speaker after an alliance of the rebels and moderate communists registered a landslide victory in the 2017 elections.

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    He was the chief rebel negotiator during the peace talks with the government that ended a decade-long civil war in 2006.

    The ruling Communist Party asked Mahara to step down in light of the allegations and to help a fair investigation, party spokesman Narayan Kaji Shrestha said by telephone, amid a barrage of criticism of Mahara on social media.

    Activists say more women are speaking up about cases of sexual violence, but also that many still go unreported in deeply patriarchal Nepal.

    "We will stay watchful. Impartial investigation is must. Position, reach, victim shaming will not be valued," tweeted woman's rights activist Hima Bista.

    SOURCE: News agencies