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Nepal capital fears violence as government clamps ban orders


Kathmandu : After a series of peaceful street protests by the former Maoist guerrillas against the communist-led government of Nepal, violence could erupt Thursday in the capital following the ruling alliance’s decision to clamp prohibitory orders on large tracts of area around Singha Durbar, the bastion of the government.

With the former Maoist guerrillas having announced they would picket the enclave that houses the Prime Minister’s Office and several important ministries for two days from Thursday, the government enforced prohibitory orders around the block, banning any kind of protests.

“It is a ploy to provoke unnecessary confrontation,” said Maoist leader and former finance minister Baburam Bhattarai, who has been orchestrating the new anti-government protests that started from Nov 1.

Bhattarai said the protests so far had been peaceful, disciplined and dignified.

“We do not want violence,” he told the media in the capital on the eve of the last phase of the protests Wednesday. “We will follow the old prohibitory orders (which stretch over a smaller area).

“However, we are not ready to obey the fresh prohibitions. In a democracy, there is no prohibition on peaceful demonstrations.”

The Maoist leader warned that the coalition government would be held responsible if violence erupted Thursday and urged human rights activists as well as the international community to monitor Thursday’s protest.

Bhattarai also said that the Maoist movement in Nepal was “self-sufficient” and did not depend on support from India or Indian Maoists.

“However, as the largest party (in parliament), we want good relations with all our neighbours,” he said. “There are efforts to turn our relations with India bitter through allegations about our links with India’s Maoists. It is an effort to create unjustified fears about us.

“The Maoist movement in India is India’s internal matter and we have no links with them.”

The Maoists have asked Nepal’s civil servants and people to stay away from Singha Durbar for two days. They have also asked the chief district officer of Kathmandu to lift the new prohibitory order.

Bhattarai said the protests are intended to pressure the government into rectifying the step taken by President Ram Baran Yadav, earlier this year, which led to the collapse of their eight-month government.

The president prevented the Maoist government from sacking the army chief. Bhattarai likened it to King Gyanendra’s decision to sack the elected government seven years ago, which ultimately paved the way for his bloodless coup with military support in 2005.

“The presidential move – that is unconstitutional – will also lead to a similar coup with a military government if it is not corrected,” the Maoist leader said.

Bhattarai also blamed the ruling parties for the blockade of parliament since May.

“It is the ruling parties which created the impasse by preventing us, the largest party, from initiating a debate in the house on the role of the president,” he said. “The constitution does not prevent such a debate.”