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on Nepal's revolt against monarchy

Nepalese monarch King Gyanendra announced on national television on April 21 that he is handing executive powers to the Himalayan kingdom's seven main political parties.

"Active participation of the political parties is important for multiparty democracy," said the king, who assumed direct rule on 1 February, 2005. He went on to form his own cabinet of staunch royalist ministers after suspending the government of former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.

Independent experts say the surprise announcement by the king was partly the result of more than two weeks of nationwide protests that ended in three deaths on Thursday, as well as hundreds of serious injuries.

The demonstrations have been organized by the nation's leading parties with the backing of Maoist rebels who have been waging war on Kathmandu for more than a decade.

"The mass demonstrations have put a lot of pressure on him and this made him to subdue to the people's rise against him," said Rajendra Dahal, editor of the country's largest selling news magazine, Himal Khabarpatrika.

But the king's announcement has not convinced many in the opposition. They say the monarch's request to them to find a new prime minister and form a cabinet does not go far enough in restoring Nepal's fragile democratic process.

"The king's address to the nation only proves that he still has little regard for the people's movement," said Krishna Sitaula, spokesman for the Nepali Congress (NC), the country's largest political party.

Other opposition leaders said they were considering what the king had said and would be making a public statement on Saturday about what action they would take.

Observers say the king's offer of a partial restoration of democracy has not gone down well and that many of the 2.5 million people who have been demonstrating want him to abdicate ahead of fresh elections.

"We will not stop our protests unless full democracy is restored and until people tell us to stop the [protest] movement," added Sitaula, defiantly.

Despite the king's statement, the royal government has not called of a curfew imposed on Thursday.

© IRIN   [Integrated Regional Information Networks is a project the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]

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Albion Monitor   April 20, 2006   (

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