Kathmandu, Feb 5 (efe-epa).- Thousands of pro-government demonstrators took to the streets in Nepal in a show of strength on Friday, a day after routine life in the Himalayan nation was paralyzed due to protests by a splinter faction of the ruling party.
It was the latest in a series of protests and counter-protests across the country by the two breakaway factions of the Nepal Communist Party after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli dissolved parliament prematurely on Dec.20 and called snap polls.
The dissolution of parliament has been challenged in the Supreme Court as Oli sought elections about two years before his government’s tenure was to end.
On Thursday, the call to strike was given by the faction led by former guerrilla commander Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and former communist prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.
Thousands of supporters of the Oli faction attended a gathering near the former royal palace on Friday.
Oli, 68, said it was the biggest political rally that proved his faction was the main political force in Nepal.
“We thought we would have stability after winning the 2017 elections, but there was instability within the party,” Oli said.
“However, we will not let the rival faction sabotage Nepal’s progress towards prosperity,” he said,
He asked if there was anyone still confused about the main party in Nepal.
“We are the main party.”
The prime minister accused the Prachanda faction of threatening the Supreme Court and the election commission.
“Those institutions are independent, they will make rational decisions. Now the country is moving towards elections,” Oli said.
The Oli group said 200,000 of its supporters attended the rally in the capital on Friday, while the rival faction claimed that it brought 100,000 people to the demonstration on Jan.22.
Sources close to Prachanda said they had have planned another mass rally in Kathmandu on Feb.10. Oli has announced two rallies on Feb.13 and 20.
The two allies formed a ruling combine in February 2018 after winning a majority in the general elections.
They merged in May that year to give their government the most popular support in Nepal in the last two decades.
But frictions between the two sides appeared last year when Dahal demanded that power be shared alternatively between them.
Following the refusal by Oli, who was also accused of promoting corruption, the party began making preparations to dismiss him.
The prime minister preempted their move and dissolved the parliament. EFE-EPA