Tens of thousands of people have protested in Nepal’s capital against the prime minister for dissolving parliament and ordering new elections in an escalating feud within the governing party.
Supporters of a splinter group in the Nepal Communist Party marched peacefully in the centre of Kathmandu as they demanded that Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli reinstate parliament.
Security was tight in the capital, with barbed wire barriers and police in riot gear blocking the area around the main government offices. There were no reports of violence.
Parliament was dissolved on December 20 at the direction of the prime minister and new elections were announced for April 30 and May 10, 2021.
Oli became prime minister after his Nepal Communist Party won elections three years ago. Oli’s party and the party of former Maoist rebels had earlier merged to form a unified Communist party.
Tensions, however, have grown between Oli and the leader of the former rebels, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who is also co-chair of the party. The two had previously agreed that they would split the five-year prime minister’s term between them, but Oli has refused to allow Dahal to take over.
The opposition has also accused Oli’s government of corruption, and his administration has faced criticism over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Oli also has been accused of moving closer to China and drifting away from Nepal’s traditional partner, India, since taking power.