11/13/2009, 00.00
NEPAL
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As Maoists hold sway over Kathmandu, Nepal’s enemy camps turn to India and China

by Kalpit Parajuli
Today is the last day of demonstrations in front of the Singha Durbar, Nepal’s seat of government. Maoists plan a future “nation-wide programme of protests”. Interior minister travels to India to strengthen cooperation to counter Maoist influence, whilst Maoist chief is set to fly to Beijing.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepali Maoists have ended their protests today after paralysing government activities. The second phase of the so-called ‘people’s movement-III’ saw more than 150,000 participants, including former Maoist guerrillas and United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPM-M) members of parliament and militants, gathered around the  Singha Durbar, Nepal’s official seat of government.

Police agents are still deployed in the streets of the capital with more than 2,000 anti-riot units ready to move in.

Local sources said that actors, poets and famous people from the world of entertainment are dancing and singing with protesters near police checkpoints.

Long time Maoist leaders like former Prime Minister Prachanda, Baburam Bhattarai and Mohan Baidhya led the protesters.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the latter said, “We shall adopt a tougher nation-wide programme of protests if the government does not heed our peaceful demonstration.”

For his part, Prachanda addressed the crowd, saying, “Today all of Kathmandu is in favour of the Maoists but the government won’t hear us.” He also spoke again about the dispute between the current government and Ban Ki-moon, who in early November said that he was concerned about the stalled peace process.

Whilst the Nepali government accused the UN secretary general of meddling in the internal affairs of Nepal, Prachanda accused the government and the president of creating obstacles to the recovery and the “supremacy of civil society.”

Nepal is currently in the throes of a deep economic crisis, made worse by five months of UCPN-M-led protests organised, involving Maoist trade unions and youth groups. One consequence of the situation is that no one has been paid, whether the prime minister and his ministers or public servants and police.

In the meantime, the National unity government formed in May following Prachanda’s resignation remains on high alert against a possible armed action by the former Maoist rebels. It also seems unable to end the gridlock, except to continue its ‘cold war’ with the Maoists.

Given the situation, the government has sought closer ties with India to counter Maoist influence. On 17 November, the Nepali Interior Minister Bhim Rawal will start a three-day visit to New Delhi where he will meet his Indian counterpart, P. Chidambaram. He is also bringing an offer to India Nepal’s for greater cooperation in controlling the open border between the two countries.

Conversely, UCPN-M will send Nanda Kishore Pun Pasang, the new chief of the Maoist guerrillas, for talks with leaders of the Chinese Communist Party.

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