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Political turmoil returns as Nepal suffers worst COVID outbreak

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) – Political turmoil has returned to Nepal, which has had eight different governments in a decade and is experiencing its worst outbreak of COVID-19 with severe shortages of health facilities and oxygen for patients.

With their hopes for stability lost, people are angry with the government and the politicians they elected.

“The leaders have disappointed us again as people die in their homes, streets and hospital parking lots while politicians fight over who will be the prime minister,” said Hari Sah, a plumber who was trying to buy. rice and lentils for his family within two hours, people are allowed to shop during an ongoing virus lockdown.

“These politicians are monsters who come to us to vote but when we really need their help they are busy making plans to take power and indifferent to our suffering,” said Narayan Magar, a driver who is helpless. work for months.

Khadga Prasad Oli became prime minister in 2018 with strong support from two-thirds of parliament, but two splits within his ruling party this year prompted him to resign on Monday. No political party now has a majority, and they are unlikely to agree to a coalition government any time soon.

It will likely be weeks before a new government is formed as the country struggles to cope with the pandemic.

The Himalayan nation has seen its highest new cases and deaths in recent days, registering 9,483 new cases and 225 deaths on Tuesday, nearly 30 times as many infections in a month.

Several hospitals in Kathmandu have stopped taking in new patients, saying they have run out of beds and oxygen for patients.

Grande Hospital issued a notice saying it would not accept new COVID-19 patients because the 100 oxygen cylinders a day provided by the government were barely enough.

Government hospitals treat patients in hallways, in porch beds, and in waiting rooms while parents line up for oxygen.

Yet the interim government is unable to take major decisions to get the country through the crisis.

“For now, all political forces should have worked together putting aside all past differences to work to end the coronavirus crisis, but it is unfortunate for the nation and the people they are focusing entirely on who comes to power, ”said Bhojraj Pokharel, former head of Nepal’s electoral commission.

Nepal has had eight governments in 10 years, 11 in 13 years, and 25 governments in the past 30 years. Oli’s Communist Party of Nepal, winning two-thirds of the parliamentary seats in the 2017 election, was a relief to the people of the country, who ultimately secured what appeared to be a stable government that would complete a full term and work for it. the development of the country.

This did not last, as a faction of the party began to pressure Oli to have his own leader succeed him. The party finally broke up earlier this year. Another faction within the remaining party did not support Oli in the confidence motion in parliament on Monday.

Oli has been criticized since the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year for spending more time on his party’s bickering.

His government has imposed lockdowns in an attempt to reduce infections, but has failed to prepare for further outbreaks. The latest lockdown, in effect since last month, has been extended until the end of May.

“Our biggest enemy is COVID-19 right now,” Pokharel said. “To fight this great enemy, the nation must come together and all forces must unite for battle.”

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