07/25/2008, 00.00
NEPAL
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Nepali nationalists call for vice-president’s resignation

by Kalpit Parajuli
A day after the vice-president’s oath of office, protests continue against Paramananda Jha because he made his inaugural address in Hindi and wore traditional Indian clothes. The leader of the Communist Party (Maoist) sets conditions for forming national unity government.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – A day after Nepal’s Vice President Paramananda Jha took the oath of office street protests continue. Protesters have called for his resignation and burnt him in effigy because the holder of the second highest office in the newly proclaimed republic pronounced his maiden speech in Hindi, not in Nepali, the country’s official language, and wore Indian-styled clothes, not traditional Nepali garb.

Last night a large group of thousands of Nepali nationalists burnt a dummy in Vice-President Jha’s effigy (see photo), demanding he resign immediately.

The controversy is further complicated by the fact that when Mr Jha was a Supreme Court judge he was involved in international smuggling and forced to resign as a result of the probe.

Paramananda Jha took the oath of office on Wednesday before President Ram Baran Yadav. In his speech he used Hindi and wore traditional Indian clothes. This set off nationalists’ anger who fear greater Indian influence in the country.

Both president and vice-president are Madhesi, an ethnic group originally from India.

Protesters vowed to continue their fight in the future if what they consider a campaign against Nepal’s national identity continues.

In the meantime, the leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) Nepal Prachanda whose party has the largest block in parliament, 220 seats out of 601, has set three conditions for the formation of a government of national unity, namely the end of the alliance between the Nepali Congress, the CPN (Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist-Leninist) and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum; respect for the guidelines laid down by Maoists for the new government, and the assurance that the latter will stay in power for at least two years to write the new constitution.

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