Minority ethnic group supporters protest in Nepal’s capital

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Hundreds of minority ethnic group supporters scuffled with police in Nepal’s capital on Sunday, restarting protests against the government and the Himalayan nation’s new constitution.

The protesters blocked a main street leading to the prime minister’s office in Kathmandu, creating traffic problems. They chanted slogans against the government and attempted to break through a police cordon, but were quickly pushed back. Police did not use force on the demonstrators.

No one was injured. Security was stepped up, with hundreds of riot police guarding the main streets and government offices.

The protesters, led by the Madhesi minority group, are demanding changes in the new constitution adopted last year. Their protests from September to February resulted in the deaths of more than 50 people and blocked key border points with India that resulted in severe shortages of fuel, medicine and other supplies.

They have vowed to continue protesting in Kathmandu until their demands are met.

Ethnic Madhesis oppose the new constitution because they say its seven federal states have borders that cut through their ancestral homeland in the south. They want a larger state, more government representation and more local autonomy.

Several rounds of talks with the government have failed to reach any agreement.

The Constituent Assembly adopted a constitution in September after years of delays and despite protesters’ claims of unfairness.

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