Daytime curfew reimposed in Nepal
There have been daily protests and clashes with security forces throughout the country since last Thursday.india Updated: Apr 11, 2006 09:34 IST
Nepal's royal government reimposed a daytime curfew on Tuesday in the capital and the two towns where security forces have fatally shot anti-monarchy protesters who joined rallies demanding the restoration of democracy.
The US State Department, meanwhile, called on Nepal's King Gyanendra to restore democracy, declaring that 15 months of direct palace rule "has failed in every regard."
"The demonstrations, death, arrests and Maoist attacks in the past few days have shown there is more insecurity, not less," agency spokesman Sean McCormack said in Washington on late Monday.
There have been daily protests and clashes with security forces throughout the country since last Thursday when the country's seven major opposition parties called a general strike.
Security forces have killed three protesters and put more than 1,000 in jail since then.
The parties are demanding the King relinquish the power he seized last year with the stated intention of crushing a Maoist insurgency and enabling the country to hold elections that had been suspend due to the violence.
The strike has continued into this week, shutting down roads, schools, and stores in most parts of the country.
The crisis has shown no sign of abating, with police firing rubber bullets and tear gas at stone-throwing protesters who have defied curfews and taken to the streets for five straight days.
Mobs marched through Nepal's major cities and its far-flung towns again on Monday.
But the government remained steadfast in its refusal to reach out to the political opposition, now allied with Nepal's communist insurgents in a campaign to force the king to roll back his power grab.
In Washington, McCormack said that, along with the immediate restoration of democracy, dialogue with Nepal's constitutional political parties should begin.
"It is time the King recognises that this is the best way to deal with the Maoist insurgency and to return peace and prosperity to Nepal," he added.
For the first time, thousands of workers, professionals and business people have marched alongside students and political activists.
Authorities have threatened yet harsher measures if the protests don't end.
Despite the violent crackdown, Nepal's seven-party opposition alliance has vowed to press on indefinitely with the general strike and its protests against the King.