Tear gas, water cannon fired to disperse protest over US grant in Nepal
Police fired tear gas and a water cannon at protesters in Nepal’s capital on Sunday after citizens marched in opposition to a U.S.-funded infrastructure program that was going before parliament for approval.
Hundreds of protesters objecting to the program attempted to break through barbed wire barricades and threw stones at police, according to The Associated Press. Police fought back, beating protesters with bamboo batons and firing tear gas and the water canon, the news service noted, adding that the exchange left people injured on both sides.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. aid agency, agreed in 2017 to give Nepal $500 million in grants to fund a 187-mile electrical transmission line as well as a road improvement project, according to CNN.
While the government officials said the grant will not need to be repaid and has no conditions attached, critics say it will undermine Nepal’s sovereignty. Those opposed, mainly from two of the Communist parties in the ruling coalition, say it is part of the U.S.’s Indo-Pacific strategy and could bring American soldiers to the country, the AP noted.
However, the U.S. Embassy in Nepal said the MCC grant is “a gift from the American people and a partnership between our nations that will bring jobs and infrastructure to Nepal and improve the lives of Nepalis.”
“This project was requested by the Nepali government and the Nepali people and designed to transparently reduce poverty and grow the economy of Nepal,” the embassy said in the statement issued Saturday.
Despite the protests, Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, minister for communication and information technology, ratified the grant on Sunday.
“The grant will be an important tool for the socioeconomic development of the country,” Karki said, according to CNN.
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