Tens of thousands of communist demonstrators flooded the streets leading to government headquarters in Nepal’s capital Thursday one of the biggest protests against the president and government in months.
Demonstrators prevented officials from entering the area as hundreds of police officers in riot gear armed with batons and tear gas guarded the complex, which houses the government’s main offices.
Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, who quit in May as prime minister, ending a Maoist-led government said that protests that have grown in size throughout the country in the past few weeks would continue until their demands for the government’s and president’s resignation are met.
“It is our duty as nation-loving citizens to come to the rescue of the country. That is why we have gathered here in a large number,” Dahal said.
Dahal resigned after President Ram Baran Yadav rejected his government’s decision to fire the army chief. The president’s rejection prompted the Maoists to pull out of the coalition government, and since then they have organized protests both in the streets and parliament.
A police official at the scene, Kul Bahadur Karki, estimated the crowd size to be in the tens of thousands.
“Resign puppet government. President, take back the unconstitutional action,” they chanted.
The Maoists accused the army chief of opposing the integration of thousands of former rebel fighters into the national army a key component of the peace deal under which the Maoists laid down their arms three years ago. Communist fighters are still confined to U.N.-monitored camps.
The Maoists fought government troops between 1996 and 2006, when they gave up their armed revolt to join a peace process. More than 13,000 people were killed during the insurgency.