Anti-federal Communists call Nepal closure

September 28th, 2008 - 3:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Sep 28 (IANS) A minor Communist party opposed to the decision of parliament to declare Nepal a federal nation called a closure Sunday in the Himalayan republic, beginning a protest that could cause the country to miss its date with a new constitution.The Rastriya Jana Morcha, a breakaway faction of the Jana Morcha Nepal party that is a minor member of the six-party ruling alliance, was largely successful in affecting transport, businesses and education in many parts of the country, including capital city Kathmandu.

Protesters from the party as well as its student wing clashed with security forces in several areas in the capital, resulting in the arrest of over 50. The demonstrators torched a bus and a taxi in Kathmandu and vandalised over a dozen vehicles.

This is the first strike faced by the Maoist-led government that in the past, during its 10-year People’s War, had adopted closures as a main weapon to attack a succession of governments, including King Gyanendra’s army-backed regime.

The protest was called against the decision of Nepal’s newly elected constituent assembly, which is also the interim parliament, to formally declare Nepal a federal nation.

The 601-member assembly is now engaged in drafting a new pro-people constitution that is to be completed in 2010 but seems unlikely to meet the deadline.

The new constitution will implement the reconstitution of the country into autonomous states.

The Rastriya Jana Morcha says a tiny nation like Nepal can’t afford federalism and faces the danger of disintegration. Some organisations in the southern Terai plains have already been demanding that the Terai secede from Nepal.

None of the major parties barring the Maoists have been able to come up with a blueprint for the new Nepal.

The Maoists, who now head the coalition government, have proposed reconstituting the country, which is currently divided into 75 districts, into around 800 districts, a proposal that has been received with incredulity.

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