- Title: NEPAL: Maoists hold rally after calling off strike
- Date: 9th May 2010
- Summary: MAOISTS MARCHING AND DANCING
- Embargoed: 24th May 2010 13:00
- Location: Nepal
- Country: Nepal
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAAYJQNMTIM6FS8WSYJOF4SQVGS
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- Story Text: Maoists hold a large rally in the Nepalese capital Kathmansu after suspending a general strike.
Nepal's former Maoist rebels held a mass rally on Saturday (May 8) after suspending a general strike that had choked daily life in the impoverished Himalayan nation for the past week.
Thousands gathered in central Kathmandu where they were addressed by the Maoist chief Prachanda, who said the suspension may be temporary.
If no National Unity government is formed to complete the peace process then the six days strike should be considered "just a rehearsal" for the main event, he said.
A special constituent assembly has until May 28 to draft a constitution, the nascent republic's first, but analysts said the deadline was unlikely to be met.
The Maoists were under enormous public pressure to call off the strike that hit ordinary Nepalis badly and halted the supply of essential goods, including fuel and medicines, for six days without breaking the deadlock with the government.
On Friday, about 25,000 people marched in the capital, pressing the Maoists to end the strike and find a solution to the stalemate with other parties through dialogue.
Experts say the Maoists, who control 40 percent of seats in the 601-seat parliament, had been trying to apply pressure tactics to return to power a year after quitting in a row with the president.
Transport, businesses and schools had come to a standstill as the Maoists demanded Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal quit to clear the way for a unity government headed by the Maoists. The government has so far said it will not yield.
The standoff has delayed the integration and rehabilitation of more than 19,000 former Maoist fighters, a key part of the 2006 peace deal that ended a decade-long civil war.
In a sign that the political standoff was likely to continue, the United Nations is planning to extend its peace mission in Nepal for another four months.
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