Tags: Nepal | constitution | strike | demonstration

Nepal Police Fire Tear Gas at Protesters in Maoist-Led Strike

Tuesday, 07 Apr 2015 06:28 AM

Nepalese police Tuesday fired tear gas and arrested dozens of demonstrators for trying to enforce a nationwide Maoist-led strike to protest against the government's plan to push through a new constitution without opposition agreement.

The opposition has forced factories, schools and public transport to shut down across the Himalayan nation in protest at government plans to hold a vote on disputed terms of the charter after failing to reach cross-party agreement.

Police said scores of security personnel had been deployed in Kathmandu as a 30-party opposition alliance headed by former Maoist rebels kicked off a three-day strike.

Tensions flared in the city as demonstrators tried to attack a police van carrying arrested protestors, a local police official said.

"Five shells of teargas were fired to prevent further violence," police superintendent Bishwa Raj Pokharel told AFP.

Police spokesman Kamal Singh Bam said security forces had arrested 40 people, including 20 in Kathmandu, for stopping vehicles and intimidating shopkeepers into shutting down their businesses.

"This morning, a parked taxi was set on fire. A few other vehicles have been torched or attacked with stones," Bam told AFP.

Disagreement between parties has led Nepal's lawmakers to miss a series of deadlines to draft a new national constitution, deepening public frustration over the slow pace of political and economic progress.

The charter was designed to complete a peace process begun after Maoist guerrillas laid down arms in 2006, ending a decade-long insurgency.

"The ruling parties have forced us to call this strike," said Prem Bahadur Singh, an opposition alliance spokesperson.

"The new constitution has to be drafted on the basis of consensus, they cannot exploit their majority status to do what they want," Singh told AFP.

A key sticking point concerns internal borders, with the opposition pushing for new provinces to be created along lines that could favor historically marginalized communities.

Other parties have attacked this model, calling it too divisive and a threat to national unity.

Many Nepalis on the streets of Kathmandu on Tuesday said they were frustrated by the squabbling over the constitution, but opposed the strike which hurt their livelihoods.

"The politicians don't care about us and our suffering," labourer Maila Chettri, 41, told AFP.

"The rich can survive, but we need to work... now they have called a strike for three days, how will I eat?"

 

© AFP 2017

 
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Nepalese police Tuesday fired tear gas and arrested dozens of demonstrators for trying to enforce a nationwide Maoist-led strike to protest against the government's plan to push through a new constitution without opposition agreement.
Nepal, constitution, strike, demonstration
387
2015-28-07
Tuesday, 07 Apr 2015 06:28 AM
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