M A I N   N E W S

Maoists lift blockade
Koirala to take up demand for Constituent Assembly
Shirish B. Pradhan

Kathmandu, April 26
Maoists in Nepal today withdrew their blockade of Kathmandu and district headquarters till Friday, when the first session of the restored Parliament begins, following a request from Mr G P Koirala who has been named to head a new government.

The rebels had yesterday rejected King Gyanendra’s proclamation restoring the 2002 Parliament and had attacked the Seven-Party Alliance for accepting the monarch’s offer, saying that it was a betrayal of the aspirations of the Nepalese people. They had also vowed to continue the blockade of the Capital and other district headquarters till their key demand for a Constituent Assembly was met.

Today, Maoist chief Prachanda said in a statement that the rebels had withdrawn the blockade till Friday as per the request made by Mr Koirala, who had assured to take up the issue of Constituent Assembly elections during the Parliament session.

He, however, said the rebels would continue other programmes like demonstrations and rallies in various parts of the country.

The Maoists also warned to restart the blockade if the demand for elections for a Constituent Assembly was not met.

Over 300 released

Meanwhile, life returned to normal here today, a day after opposition parties named veteran politician Girija Prasad Koirala to lead the new government and over 300 activists and civil society leaders, who took part in the pro-democracy agitation, were released.

One demonstrator succumbed to his injuries in western Nepal, taking the toll of people killed during the three-week long agitation, which put pressure on the King to reinstate the parliament, to 17.

Leaders of the Seven-Party Alliance decided at a meeting yesterday to name 81-year-old G P Koirala to head the new government. They also decided to call off the 19-day stir that had nearly paralysed life in Nepal..

The Capital was back to life today. Streets were no more deserted, markets opened, public buses and private vehicles plied on the streets. The schools reopened today.

Government offices and private businesses have also resumed. Fresh vegetables and fruits arrived in Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market, the Capital’s main market.

Meanwhile, over 300 political activists, human rights activists and civil society leaders, detained for defying curfew and prohibitory orders, were released yesterday.

Those freed include Nepali Congress central member Narahari Acharya, CPN-UML central member Pradip Gyawali, Nepali Congress Kathmandu District President Tirtha Ram Dangol, president of Human Rights Organization of Nepal Charan Prasai, civil society leader Devendra Raj Pandey and Mathur Prasad Shrestha.

Hundreds and thousands participated in nationwide victory rallies yesterday. Leaders of political parties addressed public meetings assuring the people to restore peace and institutionalise democracy.

Thousands of angry agitators in Kalanki, where four persons were killed in police firing last week, chanted slogans against King, former Home Minister Kamal Thapa and security chiefs and also asked the Maoists to renounce violence.

Some 5,000 people, including 200 children were injured during the royal government’s crackdown against demonstrators demanding end to absolute monarchy and restoration of democracy. — PTI


Sonia writes to Koirala
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 26
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has congratulated Nepali Congress President G.P. Koirala for being nominated the Prime Minister by the seven-party alliance and assured him full support in the task of consolidating the victory of the people of Nepal and addressing the economic challenges that face them.

In a letter to Mr Koirala, Ms Gandhi said she had been following with keen interest the momentous developments in Nepal during the last few days which had led to the restoration of multi-party democracy and handing over of political power to representatives of the people.

“I am confident that with your vast experience and wise and able leadership, the new government will meet success in facing the challenges”, she said.

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