Violent anti-constitution protests in Nepal

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Violent protests against Nepal’s new constitution continued Monday, a day after the charter was adopted, authorities said.

Police said three demonstrators were injured in clashes in the south-eastern city of Biratnagar. To the west, in Nepal’s Siraha district, a child was injured when shots were fired by police.

In many districts of Nepal’s southern plains, demonstrators led by local party leaders burnt copies of the constitution.

Residences of lawmakers and government offices were vandalized.

In the capital, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, flanked by leaders of the three main governing parties, called the dissident sides for talks, as he addressed a celebratory rally.

On Sunday, Nepal received its first constitution written by elected representatives.

In Washington, the US State Department congratulated the Nepali people for their “steadfast commitment to democracy” with the new document, and urged the government to continue efforts to accommodate the views of all citizens.

“The promulgation of the constitution is an important milestone in Nepal’s democratic journey,” spokesman John Kirby said.

He encouraged “all Nepalis to continue to engage in the democratic process through peaceful, non-violent means, and we call on Nepali security forces to exercise restraint as people express those democratic rights.”

The constitution was adopted against a backdrop of violence, as the southern plains remained crippled by more than a month of strikes, in which about 40 people have already been killed.

The Madhesi community, inhabitants of Nepal’s southern plains, Terai, have been demanding that states be demarcated by ethnicity, which was rejected by the drafters of the constitution.

A new constitution was one of the provisions in the Comprehensive Peace Accord signed by the government and Maoist rebels in 2006, ending a decade-long civil war in which more than 17,000 people were killed.

It took seven years for negotiators to write the constitution amid disagreements over issues including the structure of the state and rights.

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