The leader of Nepal’s opposition Maoists on Monday urged the public to support a nationwide street protest aimed at toppling the current government.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal said the protest planned for May 1 would be a massive but peaceful show of popular will demanding the ruling administration step down. “We have no alternative but to exert pressure on the current government who has no intention of moving the peace process forward or writing the constitution,” Dahal told reporters in Kathmandu.
“We will lead a peaceful rally and we will not resort to any violence.” The Maoist party, which has the largest number of seats in parliament, is demanding that the coalition government resign and be replaced by a new, Maoist-led national government. Dahal’s comments come amid mounting concern about the state of the peace process that began when a decade-long civil war between the Maoists and the state ended in 2006. Nepal’s lawmakers have until May 28 to complete a new constitution that analysts say is key to ensuring lasting peace after the conflict in which more than 16,000 people died.
They must also reach agreement on the integration of nearly 20,000 former Maoist fighters still languishing in cantonments around the country. The Maoist-led government fell in March 2009 after the president overruled its decision to sack the head of the army. Since then the party has held regular protests, calling for an apology and a parliamentary debate over the extent of the president’s powers.