As the date draws near for a completed constitution in Nepal ( May 28) things are hotting up with the Maoist’s having declared a indefinite strike in the last 12 hours. This means, if the strike goes forward, the country will practically shut down till 5pm every-night when stores can open so the population can stock up on food and other essentials.( Until the Maoists feel they have gotten what they want from the strike.)
The Maoists whom basically abandoned running the country in May 2009 are now holding the country to ransom, shipping in protesters from rural areas into Kathmandu, to give their cause more leverage on the streets of the capital.
I witnessed this phenomenon on my most recent trip just before the start of a five day bhanda (strike). Going out of the city for the day I saw seven buses driving into the capital , over an hour, filled to the brim with red clad Maoist’s for the upcoming protests in Kathmandu. It can’t be denied this is clever political tactics. People do not break Maoist bhandas- as the penalties for breaking a strike are harsh. I witnessed a shop owner beaten by a pack of men and rickshaw drivers bloodied and bruised for daring to cross the Maoist mass.
But I am wondering what the point of the latest action is.The Maoists had a hard time running the country and stepped down. The current coalition of 22 parties aren’t much better but they are trying to get things together despite obstructionist behaviour from a number of groups in addition to the Maoists.
If Nepal gets a constitution it gets a chance to really address the issues it faces with a clear mandate behind it’s actions.
Here are some links, from various news agencies, covering the latest in Nepal.