It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
(visit the link for the full news article)
Nepal reborn as a republic
By Somini Sengupta
Published: May 29, 2008
NEW DELHI: The world's last Hindu king, Gyanendra of Nepal, was told to step down from his throne in 15 days, as a newly elected assembly led by former Maoist guerrillas voted late Wednesday to transform the country into a republic.
The vote by the special assembly, elected last month, formalizes the steady dissolution of the 239-year-old monarchy in Nepal. But exactly when and how the king would leave Narayanhity, the main palace in the capital, Katmandu, was not clear.
Gyanendra has made no public statements in recent weeks about his plans, though suspected royalists have made their disappointment known by setting off small bombs in Katmandu. Three went off Wednesday, injuring no one. On Tuesday a blast injured six; a royalist organization called Ranabir Sena claimed responsibility.
Government officials in recent days have urged the king, a businessman with interests in tobacco and hotels, to move out of the pink concrete Narayanhity and into his own high-walled private residence nearby — or face eviction by force.
Gyanendra took over the throne after a palace massacre in June 2001 in which his brother, King Birendra, and most of the royal family were killed. Crown Prince Dipendra, who shot himself and soon died, was blamed for the massacre. Gyanendra's family survived.
Gyanendra took control of the government in early 2005, but lost most of his authority two years ago when street protests forced him to cede power to the last elected government. Maoist insurgents came out of the jungle after 10 years of war, turned themselves into politicians and demanded an end to the monarchy.
The government, which they joined, complied. It removed the king as head of the Nepalese Army, dropped the word "royal" from the name of the national airline and drafted a new national anthem that no longer demanded allegiance to the throne.
Last year, under pressure from the Maoists, Parliament voted to declare Nepal, a nation of 27 million people wedged strategically between India and China, a federal democratic republic.
It left it up to the Constituent Assembly, as the new body is known, to take the final, official step: to rewrite the Constitution altogether, starting with the question of the monarchy. It seems all but certain that the assembly will scrap it.
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) won more than a third of the assembly's 601 seats, becoming the largest party in it. The party's leader, who still goes by his nom de guerre, Prachanda ("the fierce one" in Nepali), is expected to take over as Nepal's prime minister.
The Constituent Assembly, which was sworn in on Tuesday, will also have to govern Nepal for up to two years while it drafts a constitution. That will not be easy.
Chief among the challenges facing Nepal, as it tries to seal a peace process, is the fate of 20,000 former Maoist fighters, who are currently in camps under United Nations supervision. The Maoist leadership wants them to be integrated into the military, but it is likely to face stiff resistance from the Nepalese Army and the other main parties.
"There are many other peace process commitments as yet unfulfilled," the United Nations' chief envoy to Nepal, Ian Martin, told reporters on Tuesday.
For now, the country's three largest parties agreed this week to turn Narayanhity Palace into a national museum once the king vacates it.