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Nepal Ethnic Minorities Call Off Blockade Over Charter

  • Reuters

FILE - A student holding a placard takes part in a protest to show solidarity against the border blockade in Kathmandu, Nepal, Nov. 27, 2015.

FILE - A student holding a placard takes part in a protest to show solidarity against the border blockade in Kathmandu, Nepal, Nov. 27, 2015.

Nepal's ethnic minority groups lifted a four-month-old blockade along a major trading point with India on Monday, saying it didn't want ordinary people to suffer anymore, but vowed to carry on with its campaign against the new constitution.

The Madhesi Front of four small parties based in the Tarai lowlands launched the strike in September to force Nepal's major political parties to amend the new charter and give them a greater role in the power structure.

But the strike has led to a severe fuel shortage, and last week traders, fed up with the prolonged closure of the border crossing, burned the tents of the Madhesi activists and removed the barriers they had placed on the open border with India.

"We have called off the protests at the border, transport strike and closure of government offices," said Sarbendra Nath Shukla of the Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party, part of the Madhesi Front.

Trucks began moving through the main border point at Birgunj for the first time in more than four months on Friday after the traders chased away the protesters.

Nepal made changes to the constitution to ensure greater participation of the Madhesis in parliament but the community leaders said the amendments failed to address their central fear of redrawing the provincial borders in a way that would divide them.

Shukla said the Madhesi Front would try to rally the public against the new charter with signature campaigns and public meetings.

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