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Nepal bans rallies to block Maoist protests

Kathmandu, Sept. 1 (Reuters): Nepal today banned public demonstrations in Kathmandu to stave off protests planned by the nation’s main political parties, who are asking the ruling monarch to appoint a popular government.

The government said in a statement it had “imposed a restriction on demonstrations, mass meetings and strikes from September 2-23 in some areas of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur”.

It said the country was on high security alert and the step was aimed at maintaining law and order.

The ban outlaws protests planned by political parties for Thursday to demand the 56-year-old King Gyanendra revives parliament or appoint their nominee as prime minister.

The king fired elected Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba last October and appointed a royalist in his place in a row over the timing of national elections.

“The government is afraid with the mass public support for the protest and is trying to disrupt the rally,” said Subash Nemwang, a top official of the Communist Unified Marxist-Leninist (UNL) party, the second largest political group.

A third round of peace talks between Maoist rebels and the government ended after the government refused the main Maoist demand of a new assembly to define the role of the king.

The rebels broke an eight-month truce and resumed a violent campaign to abolish constitutional monarchy and set up a communist republic in the poor Himalayan nation.

The government declared the Maoists rebels “terrorists” and gave special search and detention powers to security forces.

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