News / Asia

Nepal on the Brink as Maoists Take to Streets on May Day

Maoist supporter en route for a mass rally in central Kathmandu, 1 May 2010
Maoist supporter en route for a mass rally in central Kathmandu, 1 May 2010
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Tens of thousands of demonstrators are rallying in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, on May Day. The Maoist supporters are demanding the resignation of the country's coalition government and a new prime minister of their choice.

The fragile 2006 peace accord between the Maoists and the state could shatter at any moment. The fate of the government also hangs in the balance.

While two major ruling coalition partners support Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, the Maoists - who have the most seats in parliament - have made it clear he must step aside.

These May Day demonstrators also have a long list of other demands that could be difficult to implement by their Sunday deadline.



Maoist leaders say if the government does not immediately adhere to all of their requests then street protests will continue indefinitely. That would force most businesses to close, crippling Nepal's struggling economy, which is significantly dependent on the fickle tourism industry.

Most here agree on one thing: we are witnessing a volatile combination on the streets of fired-up (highly motivated) demonstrators - with a legacy of violence - facing nervous police clad in full riot gear.

Prime Minister Nepal has told VOA News he will not hesitate to order the Army into the streets if violence threatens democracy.

Maoist leaders warn if the Army is deployed they will no longer feel compelled to abide by the peace agreement that holds their cadres and weapons in U.N.-supervised camps.

Such a move could thus return Nepal to civil war.

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