Nepal’s premier says king should step down

Nepal’s premier says king should step down
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First Published: Tue, Mar 13 2007. 11 44 AM IST
Updated: Tue, Mar 13 2007. 11 44 AM IST
KATHMANDU: Nepal’s prime minister said Monday the country’s embattled king should step down, accusing him of helping those trying to “destabilise the country.”
Girija Prasad Koirala said King Gyanendra should have abdicated in the wake of massive protests last April, state-run Nepal Television reported.
“Had the king and crown prince stepped down, a new situation would have been created,” Koirala said.
“Even now a new environment would be created if the king abdicates voluntarily,” he added, in remarks made to reporters from state-run media.
The prime minister’s comments mark a turnaround in his position regarding the 238-year-old Shah dynasty.
Until Monday, Koirala was seen as one of the few political leaders who wanted to retain some form of ceremonial monarchy in the impoverished Himalayan nation.
Nepal’s government and former rebel Maoists signed a peace deal that ended a decade-long insurgency late last year.
Mainstream political parties and the extreme leftists made a loose alliance in November 2005 after King Gyanendra took direct control earlier that year.
Massive street protests last April, organised by the sidelined political parties and rebel Maoists, forced Gyanendra to end his direct rule and reinstate parliament.
Since Gyanendra’s climbdown the government has stripped him of nearly all his powers, including his role as head of the army.
Government institutions have been renamed, and the state bank has decided to remove images of the king from its banknotes.
As part of the peace deal, the government and rebels have agreed to hold elections to a body that will rewrite Nepal’s constitution, and decide the future, if any, of the monarchy in Nepal.
Since the peace deal was signed, unrest in southern Nepal has dampened optimism in the country. 32 people have died in weeks of violence in Terai after protests against under representation of some ethnic groups in national politics.
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First Published: Tue, Mar 13 2007. 11 44 AM IST
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