Nepal

Strike to last till government falls, say Nepal's Maoists

Reuters

Maoists in Nepal have vowed to keep the country locked down by a general strike until the government goes. The first day of the industrial action affected the whole country but was largely peaceful, according to local media.

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Maoist vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai told a local radio station that the strike will drag on until the government is toppled and a new constitution, acceptable to his party, is adopted.

Schools, government offices, shops and businesses are closed across the country and markets are closed for all but two hours.

But ambulances, waste disposal vehicles and journalists are allowed on the streets and local media report relatively little violence.

“Some incidents of clashes and vandalism occurred in a few places outside Kathmandu valley including Chitwan, Biratnagar, Dang and Dailekh, reports the Nepal News website.

The Maoists, who staged a huge May Day demonstration on Saturday, say they do not want to rule alone but to lead a “national unity government”.

A previous Maoist-led coalition fell after a dispute with the president over the army leadership.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal refused to resign but called for further talks, in a televised address late Saturday.

"All-party consensus is the only alternative that will pave the way forward," he said. "Shutting down the nation is not the way to find a solution to this impasse."

MPs have until 28 May to draw up a new constitution which is meant to ensure lasting peace and reach agreement on the future of nearly 20,000 former guerrillas now in UN-monitored camps.

Few expect the deadline to be met.
 

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