01/07/2010, 00.00
NEPAL
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Indian interference in Nepali affairs leading to unrest among Maoists

by Kalpit Parajuli
Protests are launched today in the capital and seven other cities. Maoist leader and former Prime Minister Prachanda accuses India of "guiding" Nepal's current government, urges Nepalis to fight for the nation's independence and sovereignty.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – The fourth phase of protests by Nepal's Maoists begins today. Thousands of former guerrilla fighters took to the streets of the capital to demonstrate what they view is India's meddling in Nepali affairs.

“National independence has been our issue all the time. So we have been fighting for the National independence and sovereignty," Maoist leader Prachanda said. "The present government is guided by India and has not received any mandate from the Nepali people," he added.

For the former prime minister, India aims at destabilising the country in order to pursue its own economic and political agenda. As an act of protest, he has called for all treaties between India and Nepal since 1950 be burnt.

Under the country's former Hindu monarchy, India and Nepal developed close economic and political ties. Maoists have instead built close ties with Communist China. When the Republic was proclaimed in 2006 and the Maoists formed a government, relations between Kathmandu and Beijing grew.

Last 10 October, Prachanda visited China where he met President Hu Jintao.

On 3 December, Nepali Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal also made his first visit to Beijing. On that occasion, he reassured his hosts that Nepal would stop anti-Chinese activities on its territory by Tibetan activists. China pledged major economic aid in return.   

Maoist demonstrations are set to take place till 19 January in the capital and seven other cities. The fourth phase of protests will end with a sit-in in front of the Singha Durbar, the official seat of the Nepali government, and the Indian Embassy.

With his deputy Bahattarai, Prachanda also announced a protest march to an area along the border where the territories of China, India and Nepal meet, which is currently under Indian military control.  Senior leaders Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Ram Bahadur Thapa are also set to visit the dams Indian-built dams on the border. A general strike is called for 24 January.

Back on 11-13 November, 150,000 Maoists took to the streets of the capital, blocking access to the main government buildings, in order to demand their reintegration into society.

Given the situation, the national unity government formed last May after Prachanda's resignation has been on constant alert for fear that the former rebels might take arms again.

On 17 November, Nepali Home Affairs Minister Bhim Rawal went to India to secure New Delhi's support against possible Maoist threats. 

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