Nepal's communist former rebels protested outside government offices across the Himalayan nation Thursday, blocking officials from entering and shutting down daily operations. Nepal's government deployed thousands of police in riot gear Wednesday to guard district administration offices amid increased demonstrations by communists and their supporters. There were no reports of any violence or clashes between demonstrators and police on Thursday, the Home Ministry said. Protesters chanted slogans against President Ram Baran Yadav, whom they accuse of acting unconstitutionally after he rejected a decision by the previous Maoist-led government to fire the army chief.
The president's rejection prompted Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal to resign as prime minister in May and pull his party out of the coalition government. Since then, the communists have sought a reversal and a public apology from Yadav for what they call an unconstitutional move.
Thursday's protest by supporters of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) stopped district officials and staff from entering their offices responsible for security and administration, effectively halting day-to-day government operations at the local level. The Maoists emerged from elections last year with the most seats and formed a coalition government. But things turned sour when Dahal attempted to fire the army chief and was overruled by Yadav - a member of the rival Nepali Congress party.
The Maoists accused the army chief of opposing the integration of thousands of former rebel fighters into the national army - a key component of the peace deal under which the Maoists laid down their arms three years ago. The communist fighters are still confined to U.N.-monitored camps.