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Maoist protest cripples Nepal
KATHMANDU, Nov 12 (Agencies)
Published on 12 Nov. 2009 11:26 PM IST
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Prachanda, the former underground revolutionary who had once carried a price on his head higher than Osama bin Laden’s, on Thursday led his former guerrillas to a “peaceful” battle against the ruling alliance in Kathmandu, surrounding the seat of the government and bringing the state machinery to a halt. The former prime minister himself led a rally while the party’s other top leaders headed the other cohorts that blocked all the eight roads leading to Singha Durbar, where the prime minister’s office and other major ministries are located, demanding action against the President, Dr Ram Baran Yadav, whom they are accusing of paving the way for a fresh military regime in the nascent republic. While Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal stayed away from his office due to viral fever, five ministers reached their offices at near-dawn to evade the Maoist blockade, which will continue Friday as well. Government officials were asked to report for work early but still attendance remained poor. Around 10,000 Armed Police Force personnel were deployed around Singha Durbar and other important buildings to ward off a possible assault by the former guerrillas, who have pledged to topple the government and form a new one under their leadership. Though the protest was mostly peaceful, like it has been since it resumed his month, clashes broke out near the southern gate of the complex, causing some tension. When the protesters tried to shove the security personnel aside and breach the area marked out of bounds for protests, they were batoncharged by police, who also fired teargas shells, causing a momentary stampede. Nearly 12 Maoist MPs were injured in the rush, including former deputy prime minister Amik Sherchan. But the moment of tension passed and the protest resembled a carnival in places with young cadres dancing, singing and reciting poems satirising the current government. However, there was little sign that the government was unduly worried. The coalition government watched the protest impassively. The ruling parties say they will not allow the Maoists to hold a debate in parliament questioning the role of the President, Dr Ram Baran Yadav, who triggered the collapse of the Maoist government by preventing them from sacking their archenemy, the chief of the army. Nor is it showing any sign of bucklingunder the nearly six-month blockade of parliament by the Maoists though the siege has prevented the government from passing the budget and plunged it into an acute financial crisis.

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