Tens of thousands rally in support of Nepal’s embattled PM

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Nepal, Kathmandu
Mount Everest is seen from Namche Bajar, Solukhumbu district, Nepal

Nepal’s prime minister has responded to growing protests by gathering his supporters in a rally in the capital in an attempt to show he still has support.

Tens of thousands of people waving red Communist flags gathered in the heart of Kathmandu cheering and chanting slogans in support of Khadga Prasad Oli.

“We love KP Oli. Oli is our hero. Oli for the prime minister for the next 10 years,” the crowd chanted.

A splinter faction of his governing Nepal Communist Party and opposition parties have been holding protests against him since he decided to dissolve parliament on December 20 and hold new elections on April 30 and May 10.

The splinter faction led a nationwide general strike on Thursday, shutting down schools, markets and transportation.

Mr Oli and the splinter group both claim to control the Nepal Communist Party and the issue is being disputed at the Election Commission. The splinter faction even announced that it had ousted him from the party at a meeting last month.

He became prime minister after the party won elections three years ago. His party and the group of former Maoist rebels had earlier merged to form a unified communist party.

Tensions have grown between Mr Oli and the leader of the former rebels, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who is also co-chairman of the party.

The two had previously agreed that they would split the five-year prime minister’s term between them, but Mr Oli has refused to allow Mr Dahal to take over.

The opposition has also accused Mr Oli’s government of corruption, and his administration has faced criticism over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

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