Protesters in troubled south Nepal reject Govt offer
Prime Minister Koirala had offered electoral reforms and urged the Madhesis to end their protests and come to the capital for talks.Updated: Feb 01, 2007, 12:19 IST
Protest leaders in Nepal's south rejected on Thursday the prime minister's reform proposals aimed at quelling violent demonstrations.
"The prime minister failed to completely address the problems of Madhesi people," said Upendra Yadav, chief of the Madhesi People's Rights Forum. "We will continue our protests."
The group has been leading protests in south and southeast Nepal since January 19 that have left at least 11 people dead and crippled daily life in the area.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, in a live broadcast Wednesday on national television and radio, offered electoral reforms and urged the protesters to end their demonstrations and immediately come to the capital for talks.
The protesters are pressing for more seats in the parliament, a guaranteed number of slots in the administration and a degree of autonomy, claiming the government's development and policy-making decisions have always favored people living in the Himalayan mountains to the north.
The protesters also say local people — including many Indian migrants who crossed over the porous border but have lived there for decades — have a hard time getting citizenship certificates and other government documents.
Elections for a special assembly are scheduled to be held around June as part of a peace process to end a decade-old communist insurgency.
Protests and violence have largely crippled daily life in the south. On Thursday, a curfew was imposed again in some major southern towns and cities.
Over the past two weeks, police have fired on protesters, beat them with batons, and imposed curfews to break up demonstrations.
The strikes and curfews have hampered the flow of fuel supplies to the cities in the mountains of the north, including the capital Kathmandu.
Since Wednesday, long lines of cars and motorcycles have waited outside the handful of service stations that remained open in the capital.
According to the Petroleum Dealer's Association, most of the stations have been closed after running out of gas.