Kathmandu: Nepal`s main opposition
Maoists Sunday crippled normal life in the country on the first
day of an indefinite strike to topple the government of
embattled Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, amid reports that
a memorandum by top party leaders asked him to step down.
Thousands of Maoist supporters today took to the
streets as part of the nationwide strike aimed to topple the
22-party government after the Prime Minister rejected their
supremo Prachanda`s demand to quit.
The Maoists, who have around 35 per cent of the seats
in parliament, want the government disbanded, followed by
the formation of a new coalition government led by them to
rescue the peace process and draft a new constitution.
Nepalese political leaders are struggling to meet a
May 28 deadline to finish the drafting of a new constitution
as stipulated by the peace process that brought the civil war
to an end in 2006.
Nepal`s security forces were on high alert as
thousands of Maoist supporters descended onto the capital to
force the Prime Minister to quit, sparking fears of clashes
Factories, markets, schools and colleges remained
closed and vehicular movement halted as thousands of Maoist
cadres demonstrated in different parts of the capital,
shouting anti-government slogans since early this morning.
Prime Minister Nepal has refused to resign, but he may
be loosing support within his party amid reports that a
memorandum has been submitted to the ruling CPN-UML chief to
ask him to resign to end the crisis.
Some sixty senior leaders of the CPN-UML party,
including vice chairman Bam Dev Gautam, submitted the
memorandum to party chief Jhalanath Khanal demanding the
resignation of the Prime Minister to create a favourable
atmosphere for consensus building to prevent a confrontation
in the country, The Himalayan Times online said today.
"PM should step down to give an outlet to the ongoing
political impasse," the memorandum was quoted as saying. It
would be futile to stay in the government as it is unable to
draft the statute and take the peace process to a logical
conclusion, it said.
However, another report said that most of the
lawmakers whose names were listed in the memorandum called the
demand for the prime minister?s resignation "a serious
conspiracy". They flayed the memorandum and refuted having
signed and supported it, according to the Kantipur online.
Though the Maoists-led general strike was by and large
peaceful in the capital, some sporadic incidents of violence
occurred outside the Kathmandu valley.
Three Maoist cadres were injured and seven others
arrested after a clash occurred between them and some locals
in southern Nepal, police said. Minor clashes between Maoist
cadres and locals in Chitawan district in southern Nepal were
Major political parties including Nepali Congress,
Nepal Communist Party-Unified Marxist Leninist and Nepal
Sadbhavana Party have asked the Maoists to turn their
organisation into a civilian party, return properties seized
by the former rebels, dissolve their para-military group
called the Young Communist League (YCL), before they could
consider supporting a government led by the Maoists.
The standoff has raised fears of renewed violence
in Nepal, where the Maoists ended their decade-old insurgency
and joined a peace process in 2006.
Political tensions have been high in Nepal since a
government led by the Maoists resigned earlier last year amid
a dispute with President Ram Baran Yadav over the
reinstatement of former army chief Rukmangad Katawal, who was
dismissed by the Prachanda-led government last May.
The standoff has put new stresses on Nepal`s
reconciliation efforts amid fears that the stalled peace
process may be derailed if the Maoists agitation is not ended.