News ID: 100234
Publish Date : 20 February 2022 - 21:57

Wary of American Troops, Nepalese Protest U.S. Grant

KATHMANDU (Dispatches) -- Police in Kathmandu fired teargas and water cannon to disperse protesters opposed to a purported U.S.-funded infrastructure program that was presented in parliament for ratification on Sunday, witnesses and officials in Nepal’s capital said.
Some protesters were injured in the clashes, they said.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government aid agency, agreed in 2017 to provide $500 million in grants to purportedly fund a 300-kilometre (187 mile) electricity transmission line and a road improvement project in Nepal.
Government officials said the grant will not have to be repaid and has no conditions attached, but opponents say the agreement would undermine Nepal’s laws and sovereignty as lawmakers would have insufficient oversight of the board directing the infrastructure project.
Despite loud protests, the Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gyanendra Bahadur Karki put forward the agreement in parliament and said the projects would benefit 24 million of Nepal’s 30 million population.
The U.S. Embassy in Nepal described the $500 million MCC grant as “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 Nepalese.”
On Wednesday, protesters opposing the U.S. grant clashed with police outside Parliament, leaving injuries on both sides.
Opponents say the conditions in the grant agreement will prevail over Nepal’s laws and strike at the country’s sovereignty. They say it’s part of Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy, which has military components that could bring American soldiers to Nepal.
A few hundred protesters managed to push through the thick lines of riot police, who used bamboo batons and fired tear gas.
Police also sprayed water canons at the protesters, who pelted them with stones. Roads leading to the parliament buildings were blocked for hours because of the clashes. A general strike called by the protesters also shut down schools and disrupted transport in the country.
Police in Kathmandu detained dozens of protesters who tried to block traffic and attempted to set a taxi of fire.