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Calls for unity as protests turn violent

The government announces 11 states for the country amid increasing turmoil

Calls for unity as protests turn violent
A man gives a fiery speech against Maoists in central Kathmandu
Chirendra Satyal, Kathmandu

May 16, 2012

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As protests turned violent Tuesday and Nepal’s three major political parties announced progress toward a constitution, a popular Hindu leader called for unity across the nation. “Our leaders have brought us to this sickening state where Nepalese are fighting among ourselves,” Chintamani Yogi told religious leaders. Three weeks of protests have paralyzed western Nepal, and two dozen people were reportedly injured Tuesday. The same day, the government announced Nepal would be divided into 11 states, governed by a president elected by the people and a prime minister elected by a 376-member parliament. The government refrained from naming the 11 states and will form a Central Federal Commission to address the issue later. Two of the 11 states haven’t even had their boundaries set. Conflicts over how Nepal will be divided has sparked the strikes and protests, which have been largely in the western region. Kathmandu is expected to be hit with strikes this week, while hill districts are seeing food, water and gas shortages. Yogi, highly regarded throughout the nation, is president of the Nepal Interfaith Manch (forum), a popular Hindu spiritualist, and the founder of Hindu Vidyapeeth schools. In his statement, he said Nepalese have been forced to identify themselves solely by caste or tribe. “We Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians have to fight against this trend and unite Nepal this week – even though that may mean that our call for unity will curtail the expansion of our temples, stupas, mosques or churches,” Yogi said. The deadline for the new constitution is May 27. Related reports: Constitution protests paralyze Nepal Countdown for new constitution
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