Nepal ex-rebels call thousands onto streets to protest govt dissolution

Agence France-Presse . Kathmandu | Published at 11:47pm on January 22, 2021

A demonstration called by ex-Maoist rebels drew tens of thousands to the streets of Nepal’s capital Friday to demand the reinstatement of parliament in the biggest show of force since it was dissolved.

Prime minister KP Sharma Oli dismissed the legislature in December, accusing members of his own party — including the former rebels — of noncooperation, and called for new elections in April next year.

The move plunged Nepal into fresh political uncertainty after years of instability, short-lived governments and earthquakes that devastated the country in 2015.

Former Maoist commander Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who led the 1996-2006 insurgency that claimed thousands of lives, told demonstrators in Kathmandu that Oli was attempting to ‘derail the peace process.’

‘The elected parliament must be reinstated,’ he told the huge crowd, many waving red hammer and sickle flags.

Oli’s government has also weathered accusations of corruption and criticism for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

But his decision to dissolve parliament came after months of clashes with Dahal, who helped Oli come to power when their political parties merged in 2018.

The pair had previously clashed over their power-sharing agreement and a lack of consultation.

Eyes are now on the country’s Supreme Court which is hearing over a dozen writs challenging Oli’s dissolution of parliament.