End deadlock within 48 hrs; public ultimatum to Nepal parties
Defying the strike called by opposition Maoists, thousands of Nepalese came out to the streets on Friday and urged political parties to end the ongoing deadlock within the next two days.
Nepal's main opposition party, UCPN (Maoist), has launched the indefinite strike since May 2 seeking removal of the government and constitution of a national government headed by them.
In Kathmandu, nearly 15,000 people mostly wearing white clothes gathered at the historic Basantapur Durbar Square carrying posters that read Nepaliko Chahana-Shantiko Sthapana(Nepalis Wish-Lasting Peace).
"We give a two day ultimatum to the ruling and opposition parties to call off the strike and end the political deadlock. Or else people will come out to the streets and bring change," said popular actor Madan Krishna Shrestha.
Shrestha and Hari Bansha Acharya, another popular actor, performed a comedy act highlighting the state of affairs in Nepal. Eminent Buddhist nun and singer Ani Choying Dolma also performed for the gathering.
Slogans seeking shanti (peace) and release of a dozen pigeons marked the rally organized by nearly 48 organisations under the banner of Peoples Alliance for Peace And Democracy (PAPAD).
Clashes broke out at some places in Kathmandu Valley after Maoist cadres tried to prevent people from taking part in the peace rally. At Ratnapark, police fired tear gas shells and several rounds in air to bring the situation under control.
Rallies were held in some other towns but those at Dhankuta, Bhaktapur and Surkhet had to be cancelled due to threats from Maoists.
The strike disrupted normal life for the sixth day on Friday. At least 21 people were injured in clashes between Maoist cadres and those opposed to the strike at Kathmandu and Kaski.
Maoists have agreed to allow shops to open for four hours from 6:00 pm-increasing it from the previous two hours to enable residents to procure essentials.
While the Maoists are sticking to their demand of the Prime Minister's resignation as a pre-condition to call off the strike, ruling parties have refused to bow down to such unconstitutional threats.
The tenure of the Constituent Assembly, which was formed after the peace agreement in 2006, ends on May 28. The new constitution too has to be adopted within that deadline.
Worried at the developments, the US has urged political parties to end the deadlock through dialogue while reiterating its assistance in bringing the peace process in Nepal to conclusion.
"We urge both the Maoists and the government to exercise restraint and good judgment to prevent the outbreak of violence," stated Robert O. Blake Jr., Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs in a statement.