Over 100 arrested in Maoist-led strike in Nepal

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Kathmandu, Jan 13: Over 100 opposition activists were arrested on Tuesday for damaging vehicles during Maoist-led strike which crippled normal life in central Nepal including Kathmandu.

A general strike was called by an alliance led by Unified CPN-Maoist of 30 parties who were demanding ethnic identity based federal system in the new constitution.

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"More than 100 activists were detained and two vehicles were vandalised in the capital city during the bandh," according to the police.

The strike which closed down markets and educational institutions was called by the Maoist and Madhesi parties to show protest against the ruling parties plans to bring out a draft of the new constitution next week without forging agreement with the opposition parties.

"We called the strike to oppose ruling parties' attempt to establish a new constitution by exploiting their majority numbers in the assembly," said Prem Bahadur Singh, opposition alliance spokesperson.

"We will call more protests if the ruling parties neglect our demands, he said" The alliance of the ruling parties including the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML the strength of two third majority in the 601 member Constituent Assembly, which is required to endorse the constitution.

According to party sources, federating the country into different states is the main contentious issue of the constitution. The bottleneck of the issue is whether to include five districts of the country in the hilly region or Terai region.

They are Jhapa,Morang and Sunsar situated in the South-east Nepal and, Kanchanpur and Kailali in the South-West. The strike has also affected normal life in Makawanpur, Chitawan, Saptari, Siraha, Morgna and Ramechhap districts in eastern and central Nepal besides three districts of the valley.

Meanwhile, the Lawmakers belonging to UCPN-Maoist and Joint Madhesi Front boycotted today's Constituent Assembly meeting. During the meeting senior most CA member Surya Bahadur Thapa presented the report of the Constitutional and Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee, which includes the suggestions given by various political parties on the key issues of the constitution, according to Nepali Congress Constituent Assembly member Chandra Maharjan.

The report includes the agreement as well as disagreements on the key issues of the constitution, he said. The next CA meeting is slated for January 15 to hold discussion in the report.

The ruling parties are trying to prepare the draft Constitution within the stipulated deadline of January 18 through majority votes, where as the opposition parties have threatened to obstruct the process if the constitution is drafted without seeking their agreement.

PTI

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