Nepal opposition rejects election call, vows to step up protests

KATHMANDU Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:10pm IST

1 of 2. Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai speaks during an interview with Reuters at his residence in Kathmandu November 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Rajendra Chitrakar/Files

Related Topics

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal's main opposition parties vowed on Thursday to intensify street protests against the government, rejecting a plan to hold parliamentary elections in May, a sign of deepening brinkmanship threatening to wreck a fragile peace process.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, a former Maoist rebel leader, announced at a rally of 10,000 people on Wednesday that elections, earlier scheduled for last November, would be held in May to elect a special assembly to draw up a new constitution for the young Himalayan republic.

"It is just a bluff," Madhav Kumar Nepal, a former prime minister and a senior leader of the opposition Communist UML party, said of the election call.

"It is a caretaker government; there are serious questions about its legitimacy. How can it hold the election?" Nepal told Reuters.

The aid and tourism dependent country has been in political limbo for months.

Differences among politicians over issues including the distribution of power and resources to states under a planned federal system resulted in the dissolution of parliament in May last year. A new assembly is needed to complete a draft constitution.

But opposition parties are calling for Bhattarai's resignation, saying he had already failed to hold elections once.

They want a national unity government to oversee a vote and have organised protests to ratchet up pressure for the leader to quit. Dozens of people have been injured in the protests and activists recently stoned Bhattarai's car to stop him from attending a party meeting in the west of the country.

More protests are planned for next week.

"Street protest is a must. Great achievements of the democratic system were received through street protests in the past and it is possible now as well," UML leader Jhalnath Khanal said, news service thehimalayantimes.com reported.

The ruling party says opposition parties are afraid of facing the voters because they fear losing.

Politicians are under pressure from donors to hold the election early and establish accountability in one of the world's poorest countries.

Analysts say chances of holding elections in the middle of the year are diminishing as the deadlock is delaying redrawing the constituencies and updating the voters' list. The next window for a vote is November this year or the spring of 2014.

Ordinary people enduring daily power cuts of up to 14 hours, shortages of fuel, unemployment and near-double digit inflation think feuding politicians do not care about their plight.

"They have no concern for us. They are power hungry and selfish," said Jagat Pokharel, a 25-year-old college student.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Robert Birsel)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Diplomacy

TOP SHOWCASE

WTO Customs Deal

WTO Customs Deal

U.S. says hopeful of WTO deal with India only hours before deadline  Full Article 

Tracking Monsoon

Tracking Monsoon

Monsoon turns patchy after revival   Full Article 

Gaza Violence

Gaza Violence

Netanyahu vows to complete Gaza tunnels destruction  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

Sierra Leone declares state of emergency over Ebola  Full Article 

India vs England

India vs England

Moeen puts India in a spin as England level series  Full Article 

Hacking USB Devices

Hacking USB Devices

Hackers can tap USB devices in new attacks, researcher warns  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage