Nepal Maoists to go on warpath from Wednesday

May 31st, 2009 - 3:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, May 31 (IANS) Nepal’s former ruling party, the Maoists, will go on the warpath from Wednesday and enforce ‘token’ strikes to force the interim parliament into calling a vote on a contentious issue that brought the fall of their government.
The former guerrillas, who had fought a 10-year war to transform the feudal Himalayan kingdom into a federal republic, Sunday said they would also keep up their siege on the house till it agreed to a vote that is targeted against the republic’s first president, Ram Baran Yadav.

The Maoists, who won nearly 40 percent seats in the 601-member parliament after a historic election last year, have called a sit-in before the government’s administrative offices in all 75 districts Wednesday, Maoist spokesman Dinanath Sharma said after the top brass of the party met in the capital Sunday morning to chalk out their new war strategy.

From Thursday, the sister organisations of the once underground party will hold ‘token’ shutdowns for 10 days as the first phase of the new war, Sharma said.

Besides the public protests, the party will also prevent parliament from convening till the vote is held, Sharma said.

The festering feud stems from the sacking of the chief of the army, Gen Rookmangud Katawal, which caused the Maoist government to collapse early this month.

The former rebels have now trained their guns on the president, who they say stepped out of his constitutional role to reinstate the fired general.

The party has been calling for a debate in the house to decide whether the president acted unconstitutionally, followed by a vote, which could cause further trouble for the new government of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.

On Saturday, the chairman of the house, Subhash Nembang, ruled out calling a debate on the ground that the lawmakers were sharply divided on the issue.

With the Maoists on the warpath, the new Nepal government would find it nearly impossible to move ahead.

Nepal, who replaced Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda as prime minister Monday, is yet to swear in a full cabinet. Only two other ministers from his own party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), took the oath with him.

The expansion of the cabinet, scheduled for Sunday, has been hindered by bickering in Nepal’s own party as well as his two major allies, the Nepali Congress and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum.

The Maoists have given the new government three months while Nepal has vowed to complete the task of writing a new constitution by the summer of 2010.

The fresh protests from next week are bound to cause further disruption and cast a shadow on the nation’s date with a new statute.

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