Nepal Opposition Turns Violent in Parliament

Nepal Opposition Turns Violent in Parliament

An unidentified Nepalese politician from the opposition party lifts a chair to throw, during the Constituent Assembly meeting, in Nepal on January 20, 2015. (Associated Press)

Kathmandu, Nepal: Opposition parties staged general strike to shut down Nepal today as opposition politicians threw chairs and attacked the parliamentary speaker in a bid to block the government from pushing through a draft of a new constitution.

They backed up a call for the strike in the Himalayan nation with violence, attacking buses and taxis, and forcing schools and markets to close.

The Constituent Assembly meeting began at 2 am today but turned violent when opposition members tried to stop Speaker Subash Nemwang from proposing the formation of a questionnaire committee, which precedes voting on the constitutional draft later in the week.

They threw chairs, kicked over desks and tossed microphones at the speaker. In the tussle, several security guards were injured but the members suffered only bruises.

The ruling coalition - which has support of two-thirds of the members in the 605-member assembly - plans to push through the first draft of the new constitution on Thursday.

The opposition parties say any new constitution should be adopted only through consensus among all political parties.

The alliance of 30 opposition parties called the general strike to protest, and shut down schools, transportation and shops. Supporters gathered in locations in the capital Kathmandu and chanted anti-government slogans.

They also clashed with police and a dozen vehicles were set on fire when their owners defied the strike call.

Police detained about 50 protesters who were trying to enforce the strike.

Nepal has been attempting to draft a new constitution for years, and the first Constituent Assembly elected in 2008 collapsed four years later unable to draft the constitution. The second assembly was elected in 2013 but disagreements among the political parties continue to hamper progress.