Tired of talks, CPN-M, allies to step up stir
KATHMANDU, AUG 26 – Following futile talks with major political forces, the CPN-Maoist and allies plan to announce next phase of protests within a couple of days to foil the upcoming Constituent Assembly election. Dissident groups in the Mohan Baidya-headed 33-party alliance have expedited intra-party and cross-party discussions to set a future course of agitation after the alliance’s Saturday meeting unanimously endorsed stern anti-poll measures.
The meeting decided to adopt a “tit-for-tat” strategy in response to the High-level Political Committee’s and the government’s refusal to settle the differences through talks. Leaders said a meeting of the alliance scheduled for Tuesday is likely to endorse fresh protest programmes. CPN-Maoist leaders say the upcoming round of protests will be more rigid than its ongoing programmes. The party, along with likeminded smaller forces at places, has been holding door-to-door campaigns in all the electoral constituencies across the country to appeal to the general public to boycott the polls. CPN-Maoist Secretary Dev Gurung said the upcoming stir will be an extension of the ongoing protests even though they will undergo changes in the days ahead. He said protests will concentrate on electoral constituencies as earlier.
Leaders said the campaign will have activities such as youth mobilisation and bhandafor (expose) programmes to prepare ground for a decisive struggle against the November polls. The awareness campaign will end on August 31. Central Committee member Sudip Malla said preparations are over to wrap up the campaign with a youth march across the Valley. The rally, to begin at New Baneshwor, will go round the Capital on August 30. “The parade is expected to give a message to the general public against the polls.
Party cadres and leaders representing all the constituencies in the Capital will join the rally,” said Malla, who is assigned to head Constituency No 1 in the Capital. Sources said the party has completed preliminary work for the formation of an anti-poll structure. Central members are deployed to take change of such activities in the Capital. Chaitanya Subba, chief of the Social Democratic Party, said the alliance plans to behave as the four parties and the government act. The alliance charged the HLPC with making efforts to defer the polls to uncertainty by shying away from dialogue. The focus will shift from public awareness and civil warning to organising people against the polls, said Subba.
33 parties moot general strike to foil candidate nominations
KATHMANDU, AUG 27 – The CPN-Maoist-led 33-party alliance has planned a nationwide general strike to obstruct the scheduled Constituency Assembly election. The proposal was floated at a meeting of the poll-opposing parties on Monday with a view to obstructing candidate nominations from other parties. The alliance said the strike will be imposed before September 26, the last day for candidacy registration with the Election Commission.
“Most of the parties believe it might be too late to challenge the four parties if they stay idle now. Therefore, we thought there should be something as effective as a general strike at the earliest,” said a leader who attended the meeting. Leaders said the new campaign, expected to come into effect from early September, will be announced this week. A meeting of the 33-party taskforce was held on Monday to discuss the modality of the protest that includes appealing to the public to boycott the polls and mobilising youths at the grassroots level.
During the meeting, some fringe parties suggested that talks with President Ram Baran Yadav should be held before launching another phase of agitation. The Mohan Baidya-led alliance began internal preparations for protests after the four political parties refused to hold an all-party political conference to end the current crisis. Taskforce members said smaller parties in the alliance have submitted their “struggle modalities” against the slated vote.
CPN-Maoist Secretary Dev Gurung said preparations are under way through intra-party and cross-party consultations. He, however, refused to divulge further details. Sources said the CPN-Maoist is hell bent on launching the protests immediately to make themselves heard to the four major political forces. Some fringe parties have, however, suggested waiting for a few days in order to see the intention of the major parties and the government. “We are holding another round of meeting of the taskforce on Tuesday to incorporate the views and suggestions of all the parties. The protest programme will be announced at a meeting of the allies,” said Pasang Sherpa, chairman of the Social Democratic Party. Some CPN-Maoist Central Committee members said they might oppose the election campaigns of political parties, besides obstructing the Election Commission’s preparations.The party has formed anti-election bodies in all the electoral constituencies involving central and district leaders.
Veterans’ violent protest condemned
Johannesburg – The military veterans department has condemned the violent protest at the Germiston Civic Centre, in Ekurhuleni, on Monday. “We urgently call on those involved to immediately desist from violent action lest they face the full might of the law,” said department director general Tsepe Motumi. “Whilst military veterans, like any other citizens, have a right to peaceful protest, violent protests are totally unacceptable,” he said. Looting Ekurhuleni mayoral spokesperson Zweli Dlamini said around 100 people trashed and looted the civic centre, which accommodates the executive mayor, speaker, chief whip, staff and political parties.
They damaged furniture, fridges and computers and also stole items. Several staff members were injured in the unrest, and others had to receive counselling. Around 60 people were arrested and charged with theft, vandalism, trespassing and assault. They would appear in court soon. Dlamini did not believe the attackers were military veterans. “We had a bunch of people masquerading as former MK [Umkhonto we Sizwe] members,” he said. “Surprisingly, some of them were in their mid-20s. They were not even born during times of the struggle.”
He said it was unclear what the group wanted, as it did not communicate any demands to officials. Task team However, Motumi called on the Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality to work with his department to find a peaceful solution for the veterans. “The [department] will tomorrow [Tuesday] be sending a team of senior officials to meet with the various stakeholders in Ekurhuleni to assist in finding lasting solutions,” he said. The Democratic Alliance claimed the MK veterans were demanding payouts from the demilitarisation programme for their part in the struggle. DA Ekurhuleni leader Shelly Loe said the African National Congress could have prevented the unrest. “The ruling party’s refusal to deal with the unhappiness of the MK veterans left innocent staff members vulnerable,” she said.
Scottish Cops to Help Malawi Prepare for 2014 Elections
London — Police officers travel to Malawi to share their expertise on riot training and public disorder. Three Scottish police, including one former officer who served for 17 years in Northern Ireland, will this Saturday swap Fife for Lilongwe when they travel to Malawi to share their expertise on tackling public disorder as part of a British government-backed programme. The officers from Police Scotland will head up part of the Malawi Policing Improvement Programme (MPIP), backed by the Department for International Development (DFID), to enable the police in Malawi to better address public order issues after riots in 2011 saw 20 people shot dead.The training comes in advance of Malawi’s general elections in May 2014
Controversial Construction Halted Amid Protests
YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The controversial construction of an apartment building in a Yerevan neighborhood appeared to be suspended on Monday following renewed clashes between riot police and angry local residents backed by dozens of civic activists. The police detained at least 26 mostly young activists on Saturday after they blocked an adjacent street, demanding a halt to what they say is an illegal redevelopment project. They all were released from police custody several hours later. One of the activists, Argishti Kivirian, suffered serious injuries to his head and required hospitalization. He claimed to have been beaten up in a police car.
In a written statement, the Yerevan police accused the protesters of disrupting public order and “trampling on the rights of other citizens.” It warned that police officers will not hesitate to use force if traffic through Komitas Avenue, a major thoroughfare, is blocked again. Karen Andreasian, the state human rights ombudsman, criticized the police actions as disproportionate. “Particularly disappointing was the unprofessional, emotional and irregular conduct of certain police officers,” Andreasian said in a statement. He said his office will demand an official police explanation for the injuries inflicted on Kivirian and other activists.
Colombian government to negotiate with striking farmers
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says his government will enter into negotiations with agricultural workers as their strike enters its ninth day. President Santos invited strike leaders from the three worst-affected provinces to talks with key ministers in Bogota. The protests against the government’s agricultural policies have created transport chaos in parts of Colombia. The government had said it would not meet the protesters until they lifted their road blocks.
But speaking on Monday after meeting strike leaders in the central town of Tunja, President Santos said that he and his minsters “were determined to confront the problems and work hand in hand with the farmers to see how we can get out of this situation”. He said he wanted to ensure that farmers had “a decent income, could continue working the land and look forward to a future with more hope and optimism”.
Eleven major roads continue to be blocked by the protesters, who include dairy farmers; potato, onion, rice and coffee growers; and lorry drivers. The protesters accuse the government of running the agricultural sector into the ground. They say that free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union are flooding the market with cheap imports while their costs for items such as fertilisers and fuel have gone up.
The president of the National Union of Farm Workers, Ederto Diaz, said small-scale farmers were the worst-hit by the free trade agreements with the EU, which came into force this month, and with the US, which has been in force since last year. “We’re not going to leave this country to the big farmers, or the multinationals which are taking over the land,” he said.
On Tuesday, 15,000 people marched through Tunja to show their support for the farmers, who say that they are facing bankruptcy unless the government gives them a price guarantee for their harvests. Over the past nine days, hundreds of thousands of farmers have been gathering in cities throughout Colombia, with the central provinces of Boyaca and Cundinamarca and southern Narino particular hotspots. President Santos said his ministers would discuss a number of measures aimed at easing the pressure on farmers, including easier access to loans, lowering the high cost of fertilisers and boosting prices for their products.
He also said that there would be an investigation into allegations that riot police had beaten protesters and bystanders. Head of Police Gen Rodolfo Palomino also promised an inquiry into accusations of abuse of power by his officers. The general said 160 police had been injured and one officer shot dead policing the protests. The meeting between the ministers and protest leaders is scheduled to take place later on Tuesday.
Arrest of Protester Rejected in Colombia
Bogota, Aug 26 (Prensa Latina) Union leaders and social organizations gathered today near the capital’s Paloquemao Court to demand the government the immediate release of agricultural and social leader Huber Ballesteros, a Patriotic March member who was arrested Sunday. Ballesteros, who is a leader of the Workers Confederation (CUT), was arrested by the police on a street in Bogotá, without having participated in any protest or the eight-day national strike. According to a statement from the Oil Industry’s Workers Trade Union, he was arrested because his name apparently appears in the computers of the FARC-EP guerrilla, Raul Reyes.
That evidence was delegitimized by the Supreme Court of Justice, which once considered that these computers were manipulated as the chain of custody was not respected, the text says. Several sectors expressed their unanimous rejection of the arrest. This fact, says a statement by the Patriotic March, along with the rifle shots, and the abuses of the security forces, shows that there are no political guarantees in Colombia. Speaking to the press, David Florez, spokesman for the Patriotic March, said that with this arrest also shows that the government prefers to criminalize instead of establishing a dialogue with the peasants to address the national crisis.
Protest at Hinduja plant turns violent, 12 held
VISAKHAPATNAM: Protests staged by displaced people at the Hinduja National Power Corporation’s Vizag plant, who were demanding that their jobs be made permanent, turned violent here on Monday after they started pelting stones at police who were trying to disperse them. Police retaliated with force and took 12 persons, including six women, into custody. The incident took place when nearly 20 irate employees, who had been protesting from Friday, tried to block vehicles transporting employees of the plant from entering the premises.
The employees had been protesting as their jobs had not been made permanent and were asked to go for further training if they wanted to secure their jobs. When the plant management requested police intervention, members of the Telugu Desam Party also joined in the protests to express their solidarity with the local employees, resulting in a heated argument between the protestors and the police. In the ensuing melee, ACP Mahesh was reportedly pushed down.
According to sources, the police reacted by charging at the protestors with lathis to disperse them and in turn the protestors fought back by pelting stones at the policemen. Sixteen policemen are said to have received injuries. The police called for reinforcements after which teams of the Rapid Action Force and the AP Special Police Force arrived and chased the protesters into the village, where more villagers jumped into the action, with women even allegedly launching a chilly powder attack on the security forces.
Anti-pollution protest near Sohar port
Omani police used tear gas to disperse demonstrators who blocked a port in the northern part of the Gulf state, activists said on Thursday, saying they were protesting against industrial pollution that was a risk to health. Activists posted pictures of dozens of men and women in traditional Omani clothes standing with placards on a dirt road they said was outside the Sohar port in northern Oman. “For years, we have been breathing poison. Have mercy on us, we want clean air,” read one poster carried by a young man wearing a surgical mask.
One activist told Reuters from the scene that police had begun using tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. Activists later posted pictures of white clouds of what they said was tear gas used by police, and photos of demonstrators running away from the scene. They said Talib Al-Mamari, a member of the country’s consultative Shura council, was among several people slightly injured when police broke up the protest outside Sohar port. A police spokesman declined to comment on the incident.