An alliance of parties that includes the splinter Maoist party has announced a month-long protest programme aimed at disrupting the Constituent Assembly elections scheduled for November 19. This follows the breakdown of talks between the parties opposed to the election plans as well as the government, and their pro-election, pro-government counterparts.

Mr. Bhojraj Pokharel, former Chief Election Commissioner who oversaw the first Assembly elections in 2008, said the protests, which includes shutdowns, rallies and the formation of “campaign teams” should be interpreted as “tactics to create pressure for subsequent talks”.

On Thursday, the alliance urged the President to facilitate a roundtable conference to form consensus. The President is studying the request, according to his adviser Rajendra Dahal.

The parties are also positive about holding such a conference provided that the alliance is committed to the elections, said Mr. Narayan Kaji Shrestha, former Deputy Prime Minister, who has been active in talks to bring the dissenters on board.

The protest comes days after the parties broke the talks with dissenters, after agreeing “in principle” to hold an “all party conference” last Thursday.

Ploys

The pro-government parties claim the dissenters are not sincere about elections and that their demands — which include replacing the Chief Justice-led government and pushing back the poll date — are mere ploys. For its part, the splinter CPN-Maoist blames “external forces” for the parties’ turnaround and has requested them to “rethink” the decision.

On Thursday afternoon, a key leader of the dissenting CPN-Maoist, Mr. Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplav’ flew to China via Lhasa, ostensibly to hold political consultations there.