And you thought Communism was dead.
Maoists shut down Nepal for 3-day general strike
KATHMANDU, Dec. 20 (AP) – (Kyodo)—Nepal’s Maoists shut down businesses, schools, factories and transportation throughout Nepal on Sunday, the first day of a three- day nationwide general strike.
In the strongest protest since their leader Prachanda resigned in May as prime minister, Maoist supporters took to the streets from 5 a.m. to enforce the strike, called to demand an apology from President Ram Baran Yadav for earlier this year countermanding Prachanda’s order to sack the army chief.
Maoist cadres lit up tires at the busiest road intersections in Kathmandu to prevent vehicles from plying the roads, forcing tens of thousands of civil servants to commute on foot to their offices.
The weekly day off in Nepal is Saturday. Sunday is considered the first working day of the week.
Cadres were also seen making rounds of inner neighborhoods telling people not to operate businesses, though some shops remained opened in the some neighborhoods.
A large number of riot police have been deployed on the streets to prevent violence.
The Maoists went ahead with the strike despite requests from the government as well as the second and third largest political parties — Nepali Congress and the Unified Marxist Leninist party — to withdraw it.
On Saturday, following a Standing Committee meeting held at the Maoist party headquarters in Kathmandu, Prachanda said the strike became inevitable as ruling parties are against a joint resolution proposed by the Maoists to convey that the president’s move was unconstitutional.
But he said efforts to forge an agreement will go on even during the strike.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industries has said industries will remain closed during the general strike.
Nepal’s Maoists joined a peace process in 2006 after fighting an armed insurgency for 10 years.
They were elected as the largest party in last year’s special assembly elections. The assembly met one of their key demands by abolishing monarchy last May.
The assembly is still working to meet their second demand, namely for a new constitution. The assembly has until May 28, 2010 to draft a new constitution. But noncooperation by the Maoists since May has raised fears that the constitution may not be drafted by the deadline.
Nepali Congress leader and parliamentarian Pradip Giri said if the constitution is not drafted by the deadline, the special assembly and parliament will be automatically become defunct and “the only legitimate body that will continue to remain functional after that is the presidency.”