Nepal Maoists begin strike to overthrow government

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Monday, May 3, 2010

The Maoist opposition political group in Nepal has begun a nationwide strike in an effort to force the ruling government to step down.

The strike has entered its second day, after Nepal's Prime Minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal, refused the demands of the Maoists to resign last night. After his refusal, a strike was immediately called. There are thousands of protesters in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, and most businesses across the country have closed for the strike. Emergency vehicles are the only traffic allowed to move in the streets.

Protesters say they are peaceful, although police claim to have confiscated weapons and explosives. Although so far no violence has broken out, and the mood in the streets is described as festive, the government has deployed additional police in the capital, and security forces are on high alert.

The Maoists say that the ruling government is not supported by Nepal's citizens, as it has been unable to draft a constitution for the country or made any effort to continue the peace process in the country. The Maoists, which have a majority in Nepal's parliament, are advocating to lead a national government.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal commented: "We have been accused of playing a conspiratorial role in the creation of the constitution by the main opposition party, when they should be helping and participating in a creative way."

The leader of the Maoist party, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepal's former prime minister, said he hoped "[w]e'll be able to come to an understanding because our movement is completely peaceful and in the democratic norms and with the huge participation of the masses of peoples ... Our minimum demand is having a national unity government and a peace and constitution."