Reposted from New York Times. Found on Kasama.
By MARK McDONALD
HONG KONG — Communist protesters clashed with the police and surrounded the Singha Durbar, the seat of government in the center of the Nepalese capital, as they called for the resignation of the president, local news agencies reported Thursday.
The police fired tear gas at a crowd of protesters that was blocking access to administrative offices in the capital, Katmandu, and the news portal República reported some minor injuries to police officers and picketers.
The demonstrators began gathering in Katmandu before dawn, many of them arriving on buses from outlying towns and villages, according to Nepalnews.com, and thousands of heavily armed National Police officers were mobilized.
Photos of the scene showed large crowds in the streets, and some reports said tens of thousands of protesters had assembled. Signs calling for “civilian supremacy” could be seen, as well as red flags bearing the hammer-and-sickle emblem.
Most civil servants and politicians were able to reach their offices in the Singha Durbar, although local schools were closed for the day, The Himalayan Times reported.
The protesters were led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the former guerrilla fighter better known as Prachanda, who had been the leader of the 10-year Maoist insurgency that overthrew the Nepalese monarchy in 2006. The Nepalese republic was formed in May 2008.
Earlier in the week, Prachanda warned the government that he and his supporters could be forced to “take up arms” if the government used the police and military to block demonstrations, Nepalnews.com reported.
As the head of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Prachanda was elected prime minister in August 2008. But he resigned from office on May 4 when the president, Ram Baran Yadav, overruled his firing of the head of the army, Gen. Rookmangud Katawal.
Prachanda and other Maoist leaders have charged that the general defied a United Nations-backed peace accord by refusing to integrate about 20,000 former guerrilla fighters — most of them jobless and living in United Nations camps — into the Nepalese military.
Since withdrawing from the coalition government, Prachanda and his supporters have held several mass protests demanding the resignation of the government and the removal of the president.