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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Strike shuts down Nepal capital, surrounding areas


KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) - Schools and markets were closed and highways were deserted in Nepal's capital and surrounding areas Wednesday due to a general strike called by ethnic groups to pressure legislators to write the country's new constitution by next month's deadline.

The Newa Tamsaling joint struggle committee said in a statement that it is demanding the Constitution Assembly complete the new constitution by the May 28 deadline. The committee represents two ethnic groups — Newars and Tamangs.

The Constitution Assembly was elected in 2008 with a two-year term to write the new constitution. It was extended by one year last year, but it is uncertain whether its work will be completed by the deadline. Political parties have been criticized for spending their time struggling for power while ignoring the writing of the constitution.

Nepal's last constitution was scrapped in 2007 after the centuries-old monarchy was abolished from the Himalayan nation.

Schools, shops, businesses and factories were closed Wednesday, with vehicles staying off the streets. Government workers were forced to walk to work.

Supporters of the strike demonstrated in several locations in the capital, Katmandu.

Police spokesman Navraj Dhakal said a few buses were damaged by protesters, and that 19 people were detained.


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