Tear gas fired outside Nepal parliament during US grant protest | Gallery News


Nepal’s government has presented a contentious half-billion-dollar aid grant from the United States for approval in parliament, triggering a new round of violent clashes between protesters and police outside the legislature.

Hundreds of protesters on Sunday tried to push through barbed-wire barricades and pelted riot police with stones. Police beat them with bamboo batons, fired tear gas and water cannon, leaving injuries on both sides.

Opposition to the aid grant comes mainly from two of the Communist parties that are part of the coalition government. They claim the conditions in the grant agreement will prevail over Nepal’s laws and threaten the country’s sovereignty.

Nepal signed the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) pact in 2017 to fund infrastructure projects but its ratification has been in limbo because of divisions within political parties, including the ruling coalition.

Critics say the aid grant is a part of Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy, which has military components that could bring American soldiers to Nepal.

US officials have told Nepalese leaders recently that the grant concerns only Nepal’s development, and the money is to be used for the construction of power transmission lines and the improvement of roads in the Himalayan nation.

Inside parliament, Minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki presented the grant proposal while several lawmakers chanted slogans opposing the measure. A thick line of security personnel blocked the protesting members from approaching the minister.

The debate is expected to last several days before the grant agreement is put to a vote. The discussion was originally planned for last Wednesday but disagreements among political parties and clashes with police outside parliament led to it being postponed.


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