At least 77 protesters, including a former minister, have been arrested in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, police said, as a nationwide strike was staged over the government dissolving Parliament and seeking fresh polls amid a pandemic-induced economic crisis.
Tensions have been rising in the Himalayan nation since December 20 when Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli dismissed the legislature and accused members of his Communist Party of being uncooperative.Supreme Court judges hearing more than a dozen petitions challenging the legality of Parliament’s dissolution are expected to give a verdict this month. If they rule in Oli’s favour, elections have been scheduled in two phases, on April 30 and May 10.But demonstrations over the move have swelled since December, with protesters and police clashing.
Thursday’s nationwide general strike was called on behalf of a faction of the governing Communist Party (NCP) 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 the AFP news agency.