Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of thousands of Maoists on general strike since 1 May have shut down schools, stores and factories. In the capital, people are running out of food and the price of vegetables has jumped five-fold. People are unable to go out, and in some areas, they have begun to protest against the strike, launched to bring down the government and force parliament to ratify the new constitution.
Concerned about the situation, a delegation of ambassadors from the European Union has urged Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to reach an agreement with the Maoists before the weekend.
In the meantime, the Youth Force, the youth wing of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist, which backs the government, opened fire on Maoist supporters just outside the capital, wounding some of them.
Maoist spokesperson Dinanath Sharma told AsiaNews, “We can tolerate attacks on our cadres, but we cannot continue this way much longer.”
Unless their voice continues to be disregarded, Maoists announced that they would storm government offices and proclaim a People’s Constitution, he said.
Home Affairs Minister Bhim Rawal warned that if Maoist storm government buildings, force would be used against them.
“No state can allow illegitimate actions,” he said. “If Maoists break into prohibited (government) areas, we shall use all the force at our disposal, including weapons.”
Speaking to AsiaNews, political analyst Lok Raj Baral said, “The parties should forge a consensus and the Prime Minister should resign for the sake of country. Otherwise, this confrontation may lead the country to a serious political disaster."
After decades of civil war and the fall of the monarchy in 2006, Nepal’s provisional government and the United Nations worked out a peace deal that would have disarmed Maoist fighters and incorporated them into the armed forces.
In 2008, the Maoists, led by Prachanda, won the elections. However, President Ram Baran Yadav, fearful that the Maoists were acquiring too much power, refused to have the former rebels incorporated into the armed forces.
Eventually, Prachanda resigned as prime minister on 4 May 2009 and is now leading the protest movement.