Nepal Maoists to start fresh anti-government protests
Kathmandu: On April 22, celebrated by Communists worldwide as the birthday of Soviet leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Nepal`s Maoist party has announced fresh protests against the coalition government in an intensified struggle to dislodge it before the new Constitution comes into effect May 28.
While nationwide rallies and sit-ins will be held on Thursday, the former guerrillas said they would follow it up with more protests on May 01.
"The protests are to pressure the government into promulgating the new Constitution on May 28, take the peace negotiations forward and dissolve the current ruling coalition so that a new government can be formed under the Maoists," said Maoist chief and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda.
The new protests come after a series of failed bids by the former rebels to topple the 22-party government headed by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal that came to power after the Prachanda government fell last year.
Street protests that paralysed the Himalayan republic for several days failed to dislodge the government and the Maoists` much-vaunted announcement that they would seek a no-trust vote against the prime minister in parliament also came to naught due to the numerical advantage enjoyed by the government.
Though the Maoists are the largest party, Nepal`s Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) enjoys the support of the second largest party, the Nepali Congress (NC), and the Maoists have not been able to gather the majority they need in the house.
Having failed from the streets and the house, the former guerrillas` new strategy is to try to stop Parliament from extending its term despite its own complicity in a whispered secret pact with the ruling parties to do so.
Though the current Parliament was elected in 2008 with the mandate of drafting a new Constitution by May 28, protracted squabbles among the three major parties for power paralysed the process and the deadline is bound to fail unless a miracle occurs.
While it is now emerging that the UML, NC and Maoists secretly agreed to extend the term of Parliament while in public telling people and the international community that the new statute would be drafted in time, the Maoists however are backtracking.
Prachanda has now ruled out supporting an extension unless the present government steps down.
The mounting feud has resurrected the spectre of violence and turmoil four years after it was believed to have been exorcised with the Maoist guerrillas ending their decade-old armed uprising.
The term of Parliament can be extended only if the three major parties agree to do so. However, even if they manage to reach an understanding, there is the fear of a backlash of public disenchantment and anger.
The royalists, who want deposed king Gyanendra to be reinstated, have also joined the fray, saying they would oppose any bid to lengthen Parliament`s tenure.
As things stand now, Parliament and the government would be dissolved after May 28 unless the Constitution is amended to increase their terms.
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