Thousands of people marched through the streets of Kathmandu on Tuesday to protest Nepali Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s decision last week to dissolve the country’s parliament.
At least 10,000 protesters defied coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings to demonstrate throughout the capital, according to police officials overseeing security in the city.
“We have tactfully managed the rally of about 10,000 protesters,” Kathmandu police spokesman Basanta Bahadur Kunwar said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
A large group of demonstrators rallied outside the prime minister’s office in Kathmandu, demanding that he reverse his decision to dissolve Nepal’s 275-member House of Representatives on December 20.
Oli has defended his recommendation to dissolve Nepal’s parliament as a necessary decision amid a lack of cooperation from the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). The prime minister says internal squabbling has paralyzed the legislature’s decision-making process and forced him to seek a popular mandate through early parliamentary elections next year, which he has requested for April 30 and May 10, less than two years before their originally scheduled date.
China sent a high-level delegation led by a vice minister of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to meet with Nepal’s feuding leaders over the weekend in an effort to resolve the rift within the ruling party. The team met with Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister Oli on Sunday and with top Nepal Communist Party leaders on Monday to discuss possible solutions to the country’s political crisis.
Vice Minister of the International Department of the CPC Guo Yezhou arrived in Nepal’s capital on Sunday “in what is believed to be China’s desperate attempt to avert a vertical split in the NCP,” the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported on Monday.
Guo met with Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” on Monday morning. Prachanda has claimed control over Nepal’s ruling party since he removed Prime Minister Oli from the posts of NCP parliamentary leader and chair on December 22, effectively splitting the party two years after its founding.
China is reportedly displeased at the recent split of Nepal’s largest communist party after working to foster the NCP’s formation from two separate parties in May 2018.
Guo discussed “the possibility of bringing the two factions of the NCP together and Nepal-China cooperation” with Prachanda on Monday, the Kathmandu Post reported, quoting Prachanda’s secretariat.
“Mr. Guo, after assessing the situation of the ruling party and encouraging both factions of the NCP to seek some kind of common ground for party unity, will communicate the message of Chinese leadership, including that of President Xi Jinping, to the NCP leadership,” an NCP leader told PTI.
China has invested billions of dollars in Nepal’s infrastructure development in recent years through Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. This has allowed the Chinese Communist Party to wield increased influence in Nepali politics.