Dozens arrested in Nepal as anti-president protests erupt

May 5th, 2009 - 3:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, May 5 (IANS) Nearly four dozen people, including leading human rights activists, were arrested by police in Nepal Tuesday for defying prohibitory orders and protesting against President Ram Baran Yadav for reinstating the army chief sacked by the government.
Civil society leaders, who had played a prominent role during the pro-democracy movement in 2006 that led to the ouster of King Gyanendra’s army-backed regime, were arrested for trying to stage a sit-in before Shital Niwas, the official residence and office of the president, where all rallies and demonstrations have been banned since Monday.

Protests began to erupt in other areas of the capital as the Maoists vowed to keep up their struggle against the president’s “unconstitutional step” from parliament as well as the streets.

“We have the right to hold peaceful protests,” said Devendra Raj Pandey, a leading human rights activist. “We will keep up our protests till the president takes back his unconstitutional step.”

On Monday, soon after Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda said in a televised address to the nation that he was resigning in protest against the president’s direct intervention and attempt to set himself up as a parallel centre of power, the district authorities clamped prohibitory orders around Shital Niwas and the headquarters of the army, the other key actor in the triangular drama that led to a fresh crisis in the Himalayan republic.

The Maoists are now demanding that the reinstated army chief, Gen Rookmangud Katawal, be sacked by the new government and the president be impeached.

Till their demands are met, the party Tuesday said it would not allow the interim parliament to function and would also keep up public protests.

The former rebels have also announced that they would boycott a meeting of all parliamentary parties called by their former allies, the communists, to strike up a new consensus government.

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