Nepal opposition-called strike turns violent

Dozens of Maoists arrested for burning buses that defied national strike called to disrupt forthcoming elections.

    Dozens of Maoist activists were arrested as a general strike brought Nepal to a virtual standstill amid sporadic violence aimed at disrupting next week's elections.

    Riot police and soldiers were deployed to the streets of Kathmandu on Monday, arresting 45 people for attacking and burning four vehicles that were being driven in defiance of the strike. 

    Many schools and businesses were closed out of fear of retaliation, and government workers were forced to walk to their jobs. The capital's international airport was open but passengers were also forced to walk there with their luggage.

    Two other buses were attacked in Dolakha district, about 130km from the capital.

    The strike was organised by a 33-party alliance headed by the Maoist CPN-M party, which is boycotting the November 19 vote - the second national election in the country since a 10-year civil war ended in 2006.

    The opposition groups have now ordered Monday's general strike to be followed by a nine-day transport strike to disrupt the elections, starting on Tuesday.

    The group has previously disrupted the distribution of election material and set several candidates' vehicles on fire.

    Next week's polls will elect a new Constituent Assembly to write a new constitution, a task that the previous elected assembly failed to do due to power struggles and disagreements.

    The CPN-M wants the present interim government, led by the Supreme Court's chief judge, to be disbanded and a new government with representation from all the political parties formed to conduct elections at a later date.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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