Monday, June 22, 2009

Nepal’s Maoist Supporters Protest Reinstatement of Army Chief

By Paul Tighe

June 22 (Bloomberg) -- Nepal’s Maoist former rebels staged nationwide demonstrations protesting the government’s reinstatement of the army chief fired by the administration headed by their leader Puspa Kamal Dahal.

Protesters gathered in front of government offices yesterday in the capital, Kathmandu, and other districts to prevent workers entering, reported on its Web site. Police clashed with demonstrators when some offices were vandalized and the rallies disrupted traffic in Kathmandu and other cities, according to

Dahal resigned as prime minister last month after heading a coalition led by his Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) that won most seats in elections last year, the first since the rebels ended a 10-year insurgency in 2006.

The dispute is delaying the preparation of a new constitution for Nepal after lawmakers last year voted to scrap the country’s 240-year-old monarchy and turn the Himalayan nation into a republic.

The Maoists have staged protests since the new coalition government headed by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal last week overturned Dahal’s order firing General Rookmand Katawal for failing to integrate former rebel fighters into the military.

Nepal, the leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), called on the Maoists two days ago to “stop monkeying around,” and end attacks on government offices, reported at the time.

The prime minister said the order reinstating Katawal was made to correct a mistake by the Maoists. He pledged that his coalition government will rehabilitate former rebels and aid those affected during the insurgency that killed 13,000 people.

President Ram Baran Yadav last month rejected the firing of the general, a move that Dahal said overstepped his powers. The Maoist leader said the new government is intent on disrupting the peace process.

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