Maoists block Nepal government headquarters

AP News
Posted: Nov 13, 2009 3:40 AM

Tens of thousands of communist demonstrators blocked the government's headquarters in Nepal's capital for a second straight day Friday, crippling the central administration.

Supporters of the Communist Party of Nepal, commonly known as Maoists, jammed the streets leading to the main bureaucratic offices in Katmandu, effectively halting day-to-day government operations.

No violence was reported as hundreds of police in riot gear ringed Singhdurbar, the complex housing the prime minister's office and other ministries.

The former communist rebels started staging protests in May when they pulled out of a coalition government.

Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal resigned as prime minister after President Ram Baran Yadav rejected his government's decision to fire the army chief.

The Maoists accuse the army chief of opposing the integration of thousands of former rebel fighters into the national army _ a key component of a peace deal under which the Maoists laid down their arms three years ago.

Communist fighters are still confined to U.N.-monitored camps.

The Maoists are demanding that the president, who oversees the military, accept the dismissal of the army chief. They then want the government disbanded, followed by the formation of a new coalition government led by them.

The Maoists fought government troops between 1996 and 2006, when they joined a peace process. More than 13,000 people were killed during the insurgency.