Feb 20, 2022 - World

Nepal: Police clash with protesters over U.S. grant for infrastructure project

Demonstrators clash with police during a protest against the proposed grant agreement from America under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), in Kathmandu on February 20

Demonstrators clash with police during a protest against the proposed grant agreement from the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Kathmandu on Feb. 20. Photo: Prakash Mathema/AFP via Getty Images

Police in Nepal fired tear gas and water cannons on Sunday at protesters rallying against a $500 million U.S. grant for an infrastructure project in the country, which demonstrators believe comes with unacceptable conditions, Reuters reported.

Driving the news: Provided by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an independent U.S. government foreign aid agency, the grant would fund the construction of a 187 mile power transmission line and a road improvement project in the country, per Reuters.

  • MCC agreed to provide the grant in 2017, and it was presented for ratification to the parliament on Sunday, per Reuters.

State of play: Government officials have said that the grant comes with no conditions and would not have to be repaid, according to Reuters.

  • However, opponents of the grant argue that Nepalese lawmakers wouldn't have enough oversight over the board directing the project, thereby undermining the country's laws and sovereignty.
  • Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, Nepal's minister for communication and information technology, put forth the proposal and told parliament that the grant would be an "important tool for the socio-economic development of the country," Reuters reported.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Nepal issued a statement Saturday calling the grant 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 Nepalis."
  • "This project was requested by the Nepali government and the Nepali people and designed to transparently reduce poverty and grow the economy of Nepal," it added.

The big picture: The grant has been subject to growing opposition, led by the country's Communist parties, per AP.

  • Some protesters were injured in the clashes Sunday, Reuters reported.
  • They were not the first protests to take place this week over the grant, as hundreds of protesters clashed with police on Wednesday, resulting in injuries on both sides and dozens of protesters being detained, per AP.
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