After three protests last week, Oli says young people can look forward to progressProtesters have been demanding accountability and transparency from the government but the prime minister assures that there is no reason to worry.
Even as youth-led protests are set to continue across the country after three demonstrations last week, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has said that young people can look forward to a prosperous Nepal and that there is no reason to worry.
“Let me assure you that the country will progress,” Oli said during a televised address on Monday. “And I’m not just saying that.”
The nation doesn’t need another protest as the current government is capable of ensuring a prosperous future, said Oli while inaugurating an alternative learning platform for school children.
Hundreds of youths have been gathering in protest since June 9 through social media demanding a change in the government’s methods of handling the Covid-19 pandemic. They are also calling for an accounting of the around Rs10 billion that the government claims to have spent in the fight against Covid-19, and wider use of polymerase chain reaction tests.
In his address, Oli said that he has seen the youth worry if their country is being ruined and that if the government formed on the basis of their parents’ vote was running away from its responsibilities towards the young.
Among the protesters’ demands are financial transparency, which is also what the primary opposition Nepali Congress has been demanding in Parliament. On Saturday, Oli’s press advisor produced a financial breakdown of the government’s expenditure, likely in response to the criticism. But no government entity has taken ownership of it, raising more questions about transparency.
The report, issued without an official seal or signature, claimed that the three tiers of government had spent Rs 8.39 billion on combating the pandemic. The federal government reportedly spent Rs 4.10 billion, the provincial governments Rs 1.3 billion, and local governments Rs 2.98 billion.
Protesters, meanwhile, say that Oli provided no substance on which to base his promises of progress and that he was shirking his responsibilities.
“The youths will not let their demands go easily,” said Paurakh Karki from the Hami Nepal Facebook group, which organises volunteers for protest. Protesters say they will continue to protest, but in a different modality amid concerns about physical distancing in a large-scale protest.
Political analysts say that nobody is buying Oli’s claims that the new generation has a secure future.
“What has the incumbent government done to assure the youths of their bright future?” asked Chandra Dev Bhatta, a political columnist. “I don’t think the youth are going to buy Oli’s shallow rhetoric.”
According to Bhatta, it is precisely the government’s inability to translate their rhetoric on the ground that has led to frustration among the youth and resulted in protests. The government is looking at rising unemployment and various socio-political issues that threaten the safety and security of citizens, but it has no plans to address any of that, said Bhatta.