Nepal's Maoist rebel leader has called on his fighters to stage nationwide protests and strikes, including road blockades, to protest King Gyanendra's assumption of absolute power. Rebel leader Prachanda also ordered the guerillas to step up attacks on security forces. His call came as an alliance of five political parties prepares to hold more protests Monday despite the king's ban on demonstrations.
During the first round of protests last Tuesday, police arrested dozens of people, including former government ministers and former lawmakers. King Gyanendra dismissed the government, imposed a state of emergency and suspended civil liberties on February 1st. He said his move was prompted by the government's failure to contain the Maoist rebellion, which has killed thousands of people since 1996.