Nepal (MNN) — Nepal's Maoist
rebels loosened their grip on the nation late Friday by ending a six-day
general strike. The strike, or bandh
(bund), is enforced by violence, so when the Maoists call one, everything in the
Himalayan country stops.
Transportation, schools and
businesses were closed in the capital city of Katmandu. The
strike is meant to disrupt things badly enough that the coalition government collapses
or gives in.
Danny Punnose with Gospel For Asia
says the strike's end is a brief reprieve. The Maoists have a stranglehold on the country, and they know it. "It kind of cripples the country until
they get what they want. Basically, they want absolute power so that whatever they
say goes, so they'll keep calling strikes until they get what they want."
This bandh is the latest disruption created
by the Maoists. It seemed, for a time, that they had succeeded
in their bid for power. Two years ago,
Maoist officials led the 22-party coalition that governed the country. Their
control ended a few months after it started due to a disagreement over the
firing of a high-level Army officer.
The Maoists are now calling for the resignation of
the country's prime minister. Another issue at the forefront of the political
unrest is the country's unfinished constitution. Nepal was formerly a monarchy
with a state-sanctioned religion. The first step toward democracy came with the
elections in 2008.
The newly elected officials were tasked with
writing a new constitution, one that would turn Nepal into a secular nation. The Constituent Assembly needs to finish a draft
before its term expires May 28, but there's been little progress forward.
Punnose says the strikes make travel impossible, and Gospel
for Asia-supported missionaries can't work. "A lot of our church services had to be temporarily canceled
because of the danger of actually making it to church alive." However, GFA Radio is broadcasting the Gospel
on stations across the country, including the government's Radio Nepal.
Gospel for Asia leaders in Nepal
are asking for prayer for their country. Punnose says they're also asking prayer for believers. "Pray that the believers in Nepal would
stand strong. They'll never ask you to pray that the persecution will stop, or
the difficulties will stop. They will always ask you to pray that they would
stand strong in the faith and that they would be a good witness."