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  • Nepal opposition strike shutters Kathmandu

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL – JANUARY 20, 2015. After a clash at the Constituent Assembly between the opposition and ruling party turned violent late last night, resulting in opposition members throwing chairs and breaking desks and microphones, Nepal woke up this morning to a nationwide strike. The strike had been called for by an alliance of 30 opposition parties, including the United Communist Party of Nepal (UCPN) – Maoists, and has effectively shuttered the country.

    Streets of Nepal’s capital city Kathmandu remained empty of traffic all day, with the exception of official vehicles and ambulances, while most of the city’s public transportation was banned forcing residents to use other method of transportation or to walk long distances. Most schools, shops and restaurants chose to stay closed, bringing most of Nepal’s economy to a halt. Police and army forces have been deployed throughout the country, with police officers in full riot gear present throughout Kathmandu. Opposition supporters enforcing the strikes are reported to have set several vehicles on fire, including trucks carrying copies of local newspapers Kantipur and The Kathmandu Post, in several districts throughout the country.

    Today’s strike follows a series of strikes, known as “Bandhs” in Nepal, held last week and comes two days before the Constituent Assembly’s latest deadline to promulgate a draft of the long-awaited constitution. With the opposition coalition and the ruling parties still at a disagreement over key aspects of the constitution, and in particular the issue of federalism, worries are mounting that the deadline for promulgating the constitution will be yet again delayed.

    Further strikes and protests have been planned by the opposition for the coming days. UCPN-Maoists have stated that they are planning a mass protest and to symbolically burn the constitution if it is promulgated on Thursday. Meanwhile, the country remains on high alert, waiting to see what the newest political developments will be and what the consequences of those developments will mean for the average Nepali citizen.

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY, 20: A woman walks on Kathmandu’s ring road emptied of traffic during the opposition bandh that shuttered the city on January 20, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo ©Omar Havana / Al Jazeera. All Rights are Reserved.

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY, 20: A man sits in the middle of Kathmandu’s ring road during the opposition bandh that shuttered the city on January 20, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo ©Omar Havana / Al Jazeera. All Rights are Reserved.

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY, 20: A stray dog sleeps in front of the main door of a store in the tourist neighbourhood of Thamel during the opposition bandh that shuttered the city on January 20, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo ©Omar Havana / Al Jazeera. All Rights are Reserved.

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY, 20: Nepali police forces stand in front of closed businesses in the Maharajgunj neighbourhood during the opposition bandh that shuttered the city on January 20, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo ©Omar Havana / Al Jazeera. All Rights are Reserved.

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY, 20: A petrol station is closed in the Baluwatar neighbourhood during the opposition bandh that shuttered the city on January 20, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo ©Omar Havana / Al Jazeera. All Rights are Reserved.

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY, 20: Two members of the Nepali Police forces stand in front of a closed shop while a young child looks at the empty street in the Lazimpat neighbourhood during the opposition bandh that shuttered the city on January 20, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo ©Omar Havana / Al Jazeera. All Rights are Reserved.

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY, 20: Members of the Nepali army walk on Durbar Marg street, emptied of traffic during the opposition bandh that shuttered the city on January 20, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo ©Omar Havana / Al Jazeera. All Rights are Reserved.

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY, 20: A group of Kathmandu residents ride in a rickshaw, one of the only forms of public transportation circulating today in the city, during the opposition bandh that shuttered the city on January 20, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo ©Omar Havana / Al Jazeera. All Rights are Reserved.

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY, 20: A group of teenagers play football in the middle of an empty street as vehicles have been banned around the city during the opposition bandh that shuttered the city on January 20, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo ©Omar Havana / Al Jazeera. All Rights are Reserved.

    KATHMANDU, NEPAL - JANUARY, 20: A woman walk near the Japanese embassy while few drivers defy the opposition bandh that shuttered the city and banned vehicles on the streets of Kathmandu on January 20, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: ©Omar Havana / Al Jazeera. All Rights are Reserved.

    Photography: © Omar Havana / Al Jazeera. All Rights Are Reserved

    Published by Al Jazzera.