Maoist strike halts Nepal for second consecutive day
Normal life remained affected and stray incidents of violence marked second day of the indefinite strike called by opposition Maoists in Nepal.
In a bid to prevent the crisis from precipitating further, leaders of political parties held several meetings on Monday as well. But no end to impasse is in sight.
The Maoist strike is aimed at removing the government and setting up a national unity government to ensure that the peace and constitution drafting processes get completed before the May 28 deadline.
Two persons including a three-year-old child were injured in the tourist town of Pokhara when UCPN (Maoist) supporters forcibly closed a pharmacy. Maoist cadres also damaged property of a bank in Butwal.
In Kathmandu streets remained deserted as vehicles stayed off roads and shops and business establishments downed shutters. Police remained vigilant at places where Maoists held demonstrations.
After tripartite meetings failed to end the deadlock on Sunday, leaders of ruling Nepali Congress and CPN (UML) and opposition UCPN (M) remained busy in bilateral meetings on Monday.
UCPN (M) chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ met NC parliamentary party leader Ram Chandra Poudel in the morning, followed by another at CPN (UML) chief Jhalanath Khanal’s residence.
He also met several other NC leaders later in the day. Leaders of the three major parties will again meet on Tuesday to try and arrive at a consensus.
Maoists are demanding Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s resignation as a pre-condition to call of the strike while the ruling parties want the main opposition to end the strike before agreeing to any demand.
The talks centre on constitution of a national unity government, power sharing, integration of former Maoist rebels in the Nepal Army and extension of tenure of the constituent assembly.
Another meeting of the 10 major parties in the ruling coalition held at the Prime Minister’s residence reiterated support to the government and asked Madhav Kumar Nepal not to quit office.
“The Prime Minister should not bow down to the Maoist demand and resign,” said NC parliamentary party leader Ram Chandra Poudel.