KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Protesters opposing a proposed U.S. half-billion dollar grant for Nepal clashed with police outside Parliament on Wednesday, leaving injuries on both sides.
The proposal was scheduled to be presented in Parliament for approval, but the debate was postponed because of disagreements among political parties.
There has been growing opposition to the grant, mainly led by Communist parties. The money is meant to be used for the construction of power transmission lines and improvement of roads in the Himalayan nation, but the parties allege it comes with conditions that are not acceptable.
Two of the Communist parties are part of the coalition government. They claim the conditions in the grant agreement will prevail over Nepal’s laws and strike at the country’s sovereignty. They say it’s part of Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy, which has military components that could bring American soldiers to Nepal.
U.S. officials have spoken to Nepalese leaders recently to assure that the grant concerns only Nepal’s development.
A few hundred protesters managed to push through the thick lines of riot police, who used bamboo batons and fired tear gas.
Police also sprayed water canons at the protesters, who pelted them with stones. Roads leading to the parliament buildings were blocked for hours because of the clashes. A general strike called by the protesters also shut down schools and disrupted transport in the country.
Police in Kathmandu detained dozens of protesters who tried to block traffic and attempted to set a taxi of fire.