A nationwide strike called by a faction of Nepal’s ruling party protesting the dissolution of parliament began on Thursday with sporadic clashes between police and protesters in the capital, Kathmandu.
At least 70 protesters including a former minister from the agitating faction of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, NCP, have been arrested while trying to enforce the strike, according to Nepal Police spokesperson Basanta Bahadur Kunwar.
“They are currently in our custody,” Kunwar told dpa.
The strike has crippled normal life, with a disruption of traffic and a partial shutdown of businesses and services.
In Kathmandu, thousands of protesters rallied in the streets, chanting slogans against President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli for dissolving parliament.
One taxi was set on fire although no serious injuries have been reported, police said.
Thursday’s nationwide strike was the latest in a series of protests and counter protests that have rocked Nepal since Bhandari, acting on Oli’s recommendation, dissolved the parliament in December and announced early general elections on April 30 and May 10.
Oli has said that he was forced to dissolve the parliament after being blocked from carrying out his agenda by colleagues in the bloc, who had tried to oust him through a vote of no confidence.
His opponents had called the dissolution unconstitutional; several writ petitions have been filed against the dissolution and a constitutional hearing is ongoing in the Supreme Court.
Following the parliament’s dissolution, the NCP has informally split with two factions describing themselves as the legitimate faction and asserting claims over the party’s election symbol and its name.