180 held in Nepal strike

5 February, 2021 12:00 AM printer

KATHMANDU: At least 180 protesters, including a former minister, were arrested in Kathmandu on Thursday, police said, as a nationwide strike was staged over the dissolution of Nepal’s parliament, reports AFP.

Tensions have been rising in the Himalayan nation since December when Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli dismissed the legislature and accused members of his Communist Party of being uncooperative.

The nationwide general strike was called on behalf of a faction of the ruling Communist Party by former Maoist rebel leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who helped Oli come to power in 2018 but has since become a critic.

“The prime minister dissolved the parliament blocking our platform to protest against his unilateral decisions,” Bishnu Rijal, a leader of the Communist Party, told AFP. “We are compelled to [take] to the street to protest against his unconstitutional move.”

Offices and business districts were shuttered across the country.

Police said the strikers caused a pile-up on Kathmandu’s roads by blocking vehicles and streets.

At least 77 protesters were arrested in the capital for obstruction and vandalism, said police spokesman Basanta Bahadur Kunwar. By the strike organiser’s count, more than 100 people were detained.

Oli, who swept to power with a two-thirds majority, has called for new elections in April.

The move has plunged Nepal into fresh political uncertainty after years of short-lived governments.