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Nepal police arrest 300 anti-government protestors

[JURIST] Police officers in Nepal [JURIST news archive] arrested 300 protestors Thursday who were involved in 16 demonstrations across the capital city calling for a restoration of democracy in the country. Gopendra Pandey, a spokesman for the Nepal Ministry of Home Affairs [official website], said that arrests had been made but did not confirm a final number, and denied that there was a "law and order problem" in the country. The protests were organized by Nepal's seven political parties and were backed by Maoist communist rebels [BBC backgrounder] who failed to uphold a promise to cease attacks in Kathmandu during the anti-government rallies. The Nepalese government told the police to take any necessary measures to stop the protests, citing potential terrorist attacks as the main reason.

Earlier this week, King Gyanendra [official website; BBC profile] and the royal government banned all public meetings [JURIST report] in the cities of Kathmandu and Lalitpur and ordered the arrests [JURIST report] of 13 lawyers for holding peaceful protests. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official website] denounced the government crackdown in a statement [text] released Wednesday by saying, "security considerations should not be the basis for denying citizens their right to peaceful protest - a right for which virtually all avenues seem to be closing." AP has more. eKantipur.com has local coverage.

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