Nepal's Maoists warn of indefinite general strike

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Associated Press

Posted on December 22, 2009 at 9:12 AM

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal's Maoist former rebels threatened Tuesday to paralyze the country with an indefinite general strike starting next month unless the president meets their demands.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) are demanding President Ram Baran Yadav admit he acted unconstitutionally when he reversed the previous government's decision to fire the army chief.

The Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal also said the present coalition government should be disbanded and replaced with a national government, which would include the Maoists.

"Unless a national government is formed by January 24, we will be forced to impose an indefinite strike," Dahal told the gathering of thousands of Maoist leaders and supporters in the capital, Katmandu.

The Maoists began a three-day strike Sunday, shutting down transportation, schools, markets and industries across the Himalayan nation.

Maoist supporters have clashed with riot police, attacked vehicles, forced shops to close and blocked highways across the country. Several vehicles and shops defying the strike were attacked.

Political tensions have been high since a Maoist-led government resigned in May amid the dispute with President Yadav over the army chief's refusal to incorporate former Maoist rebel fighters into the military. Since then, the former rebels have protested against the president in the streets and in parliament.

The Maoists gave up their armed revolt in 2006 to join a peace process. Their fighters have since been confined in U.N.-monitored camps and the group has joined mainstream politics. They contested elections last year and won the most seats in parliament.

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