A nationwide strike being enforced today by the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities is raising fears of further social chaos ahead of a deadline for the country’s parliament to draft a new constitution. As a result much of the country has come to a standstill with no public transport running. The umbrella organization that represents all of Nepal’s indigenous peoples called the strike to demand that the Constituent Assembly meet the deadline, which runs out on May 28, and that the new charter safeguards the rights of indigenous peoples. The deadline was extended by a year last year after political parties failed to reach agreement on a new constitution. However, political observers and Church officials believe the Constituent Assembly will again fail to meet the new deadline and further strikes are inevitable. “It is impossible for this government to come up with a new constitution in the few remaining days, so many groups will be taking to the streets now,” said Rabindra Khanal, a political science professor at Kathmandu’s Tribhuwan University. “Political parties like the Rastriya Prajatantra Party who want Nepal to become a Hindu state again have already announced protest plans,” he said. Caritas says the disruption and further unrest will seriously affect its work. “It’s sad that there seems to be no end to strikes even though the leaders of all political parties signed a pledge that 2011 would be strike free , said Caritas Nepal’s director Father Silas Bogati. “Our Caritas office here is open today but only a few staff members who live nearby have been able to make it in. These strikes badly affect the overall work of Caritas,” he lamented. Today’s strike has hit normal Church activities with daily Masses being canceled because priests have been unable to travel. NP14211
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