Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nepal's Communists Order King to Leave Palace, Threaten Force

May 14 (Bloomberg) -- Nepal's communist former rebels threatened to forcibly evict King Gyanendra if he refuses to leave the palace after lawmakers vote to abolish the 240-year- old monarchy later this month.

The king should leave the royal residence by May 27, a day before the newly elected Constitutional Assembly declares the Himalayan kingdom a republic, the Communist Part of Nepal (Maoist) said.

``If the king still doesn't agree to leave the palace after this declaration then force would be used against him,'' Maoist official Baburam Bhattarai said yesterday, reported.

The Maoists fought a decade-long civil war to overthrow the monarchy before disarming under a November 2006 peace accord. They aim to form a coalition government after winning most seats in the April 10 parliamentary elections and say the king must become a ``common citizen.''

Gyanendra won't be allowed a ceremonial role, Bhattarai told the Revolutionary Journalists' Association in Pokhara, a resort town 200 kilometers (120 miles) west of the capital, Kathmandu, reported.

Bhattarai's threat to forcibly evict the king was echoed by Maoist leader Prachanda, whose name means ``fierce one.''

Ordinary Citizen

Prachanda told reporters yesterday he had sent a message to Gyanendra suggesting he voluntarily leave Narayanhiti Palace before the vote. If the king cooperates with the political process he will be given the rights enjoyed by ordinary citizens, said the leader, whose real name is Puspa Kamal Dahal.

Gyanendra became king and began wearing the traditional crown made of yak hair and peacock feathers in June 2001, after his brother Birendra and close relatives were killed by Crown Prince Dipendra, who then shot himself.

Gyanendra's popularity began to decline after he declared martial law in February 2005 and ruled the country himself, saying the government had failed to deal with the insurgency.

The king was forced to return power to a civilian government in 2006 after nationwide strikes, as Maoist leaders declared a cease-fire and linked up with political parties in opposition to the king.

An interim administration in April 2006 stripped Gyanendra of his power, making him pay taxes and placing the army under civilian control. His image was removed from the 500-rupee banknote and replaced by Mount Everest.

Last month's elections were the centerpiece of the 2006 peace accord that saw the Maoists send their 23,500 fighters to camps under United Nations supervision.

Maoist Victory

The Maoists won 220 seats in the ballot. Nepali Congress, the oldest political party, took 110 seats, the CPN (Unified Marxist-Leninist) secured 103 and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, representing the Terai region bordering India, won 52.

Prachanda said earlier this month he wants all parties that won seats to join the new coalition government.

The Nepali Congress and the Unified Marxist-Leninists have decided not to join the coalition and are demanding the Maoists dissolve their People's Liberation Army and youth movement, known as the Young Communist League, according to the report.

The Nepali Congress is blocking political progress in the country and its leader, Girija Prasad Koirala, must step down as interim prime minister, Bhattarai said yesterday.

With his resignation, the ``door to the formation of a new government would immediately spring open,'' cited him as saying.

Prachanda said last week he aims to integrate Maoist fighters into the national army once the new government is formed, as envisaged under the peace accord. Nepal's military doesn't want to accept the fighters now because they are still politically motivated, the head of army public relations said last month.

More than 13,000 people were killed in the civil war, which damaged the tourism-dependent economy. Nepal is among the world's poorest countries, according to the U.S. government. One-third of its citizens live below the poverty line and per capita GDP is about $1,100.

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