King Gyanendra of Nepal cut phone service around the tiny of Nepal in order to hamper organization efforts of his opponents who were organizing
nationwide rallies to protest the King's recent power moves. Not only was phone service cut off for at least 10 hours, opposition leaders were
detained and protesters were arrested. The King has promised the international community that he will restore democracy within 100 days and defends
himself by stating his actions were necessary to protect democracy.
On Friday, at least 36 people were arrested in Janakpur town and 13 in the Himalayan resort town of Pokhara, police said.
In the capital, activists from the opposition Nepali Congress guided journalists to protest sites. Eight activists eventually emerged from a narrow
lane and started shouting slogans against the king in a busy Katmandu market.
"Death to autocracy! Down with the autocratic king!" they yelled.
But they fled within minutes as a column of police in blue raced down the lane with truncheons and shields, followed by police cars blaring loud
sirens. All the demonstrators were arrested.
Hours earlier, the 55-year-old king celebrated Democracy Day, marking the end of autocratic rule in Nepal in 1951, by attending a military parade.
Many residents of the capital city also participated.
In a message to the nation, Gyanendra said he took control of the country only to save democracy from communist rebels and corrupt politicians.
The Royal Nepalese Army had tightened security Friday, fearing attacks by Maoist rebels, spokesman Brig. Gen. Dipak Gurung said. Since the king's
takeover, the rebels have refrained from major assaults, except for an attack on a jail. More than 10,500 people have been killed in Nepal's
insurgency since it started in 1996.
The crackdown on demonstrators came a day after a U.S. State Department official in Washington said the monarch assured the Bush administration he
will begin restoring democracy within 100 days. The official said Washington would consider suspending its security aid for Nepal if the king failed
to follow through on that pledge.
Britain was considering similar action, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Friday during a tour of India.
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Without working with his opposition, and addressing the issues his country faces, King Gyanendra has basically destroyed democracy in Nepal, yet he
claims he did to protect democracy. Do you think the King is justified in his actions? Is is okay to sacrifice civil liberties for democracy? I fail
to see how democracy is being protected when government and civil liberties and rights are currently abolished. There's a reason the King has
opposition and not allowing his opposition a voice is simply a dictatorship. Close attention should be paid to the situation in Nepal over the next
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