Maoists ignore Nepal government’s call for talks, continue stirNovember 13th, 2009 - 2:39 pm ICT by IANS
By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Nov 13 (IANS) Nepal’s former Maoist guerrillas Friday kept up their siege on the heart of the government in the capital for the second consecutive day, ignoring a plea by beleaguered Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to call off the stir and open talks.
The coalition government deployed nearly 10,000 Armed Police Force personnel in riot gear to secure Singha Durbar, the seat of the government where the Prime Minister’s Office and nearly a dozen major ministries are located.
While hundreds of Maoists cut off the approach roads to the enclave and began a sit-in, ministers however, learning their lesson from Thursday, made a beeline for their offices early at morning to escape the blockade.
Attendance was higher at the ministries Friday with Home Minister Bhim Rawal himself inspecting the four gates of Singha Durbar to ensure there was no breach of security. The minister also appealed to the Maoist leaders not to violate prohibitory orders and enter the area surrounding Singha Durbar where demonstrations are banned.
Rawal is said to have ordered security forces not to use excessive force.
On Thursday, though the protests were largely peaceful, a scuffle broke out between the demonstrators and security forces in one area with police retaliating by caning the crowds, bursting nearly 60 rounds of teargas shells and finally firing over 15 rounds of rubber bullets.
Though police said 11 protesters and five policemen were injured in the clashes, Maoists say nearly 60 people were hurt, including three of their former ministers as well as former deputy prime minister Amik Sherchan.
While Maoist chief and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who had led the protests himself, warned his party would be forced to call an definite shutdown if the government did not heed its demands, the government said the former guerrillas were ignoring the call to suspend their protests and resume dialogue.
“The PM asked Prachanda to hold talks to remove the blockade,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “He urged (the Maoists) to reach a consensus and allow the government to pass the budget.”
However, the PMO said Prachanda had avoided the plea.
The former guerrillas, on the other hand, accuse the government of trying to engage them in talks to waste time without intending to address their demands.
The fresh protests, started from this month, are seeking the rectification of the step taken by President Ram Baran Yadav, earlier this year.
Yadav reinstated the chief of the army after the Maoist government sacked the general in summer, resulting in the collapse of the Maoist government.
The Maoists say the president acted unconstitutionally and are demanding either a public apology from him or a debate on his role in parliament.
Since the ruling parties have prevented the Maoists, the largest party in the house, from holding such a debate, the former guerrillas have also kept up a siege on parliament.
The parliamentary siege has prevented the government from passing the budget and plunged it into a grave financial crisis.
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Tags: 15 rounds, approach roads, armed police, beeline, bhim, coalition government, dahal, deputy prime minister, excessive force, former prime minister, four gates, home minister, maoist, maoist guerrillas, maoists, nepal government, prachanda, riot gear, rubber bullets, sarkar