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Nepal cops baton-charge protesters, several injured.

KATHMANDU, Jan. 24 Kyodo

Nepalese police baton-charged, burst tear gas shells and fired water cannons to deal with protesters shouting anti-king slogans in the capital city on Tuesday.

Several people were injured in clashes that took place at New Road, and over one dozen arrests were made, according to eyewitnesses.

Earlier the protesters waived party flags and shouted ''Down with Autocratic Monarch,'' ''Long Live Democracy,'' and ''Let Us Boycott Municipal Polls.''

Slogans criticizing King Gyanendra also rent the air.

The protests were called by the seven-party alliance of Nepal's main political parties led by the Nepali Congress Party (NCP) to press for cancellation of municipal polls set for Feb. 8.

Nepal's government led by the king says it will go ahead with the polls, which it says is a routine and harmless democratic exercise to elect people's representatives.

The political parties, however, contend that the polls are aimed at perpetuating the king's autocratic regime.

The parties also say the municipal polls will in no way help resolve Nepal's political crisis, or restore peace by ending the communist rebellion.

Last week party leaders and activists took to the streets demanding the government call off the polls.

The government responded with a crackdown on party leaders and workers, and rights activists.

On Monday, local rights organizations said nearly 300 people were being detained.

On Tuesday, the Election Commission announced detailed programs for the controversial municipal polls of Feb. 8.

Warring Maoist rebels too oppose the municipal elections to be held in 58 municipalities across the country, and have vowed to disrupt it.

Suspected rebels gunned down a mayoral candidate in the southeastern city of Janakpur last Sunday.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Jan 30, 2006
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