Power back to parliament, opposition names new prime minister in Kathmandu
by Prakash Dubey
A former prime minister, 83-year-old Girija Prasad Koirala from the Nepalese Congress Party, is appointed. The first step of the new government will be peace with the Maoists, a party leader tells AsiaNews.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Opposition parties have submitted the name of the new prime minister after King Gyanendra announced that parliament would have all of its powers restored and would soon reconvene after being dissolved in 2002. The prime minister designate is Girija Prasad Koirala, 83, from the Nepalese Congress Party who was jailed last year with the last Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. Parliament is scheduled to meet next Friday.

In a 15-minute speech last night, the king said he was reconvening parliament "convinced that the source of state authority and sovereignty of the kingdom of Nepal is inherent in the people of Nepal, and cognisant of the spirit of the ongoing people's movement [. . .] We, through this proclamation, reinstate the house of representatives which was dissolved on May 22, 2002."

The monarch called the Seven Party Alliance 'to bear the responsibility of taking the nation on the path to national unity and prosperity, while ensuring permanent peace and safeguarding multiparty democracy'.

As a first sign of good will towards the king after his proclamation, the pro-democracy movement has decided to turn today's protest march into a victory march. In Kathmandu hundreds of thousands of people are expected to celebrate the first, true step towards restoring democracy.

"The king's decision shows his moral stature," Dhirendra Shrestha, an engineer, told AsiaNews. "He realised that monarchy does not mean autocracy and the well-being of people depends on democracy."

"The step he took was not inevitable. Many feared martial law and full army takeover, but thank God, we avoided this tragedy," he added.

"Since the king took full control the crown and the people were pitted against one another, but that was only temporary," he explained. "Nepalis hold the monarchy very dear and believe that once constitutional reform is achieved they'll do everything to keep the king as head of the nation. This can happen in a democratic framework as it does in England, Japan and Thailand".

According to Nepalese Congress Party leader Devendra Lal Nepali, after parliament is restored a coalition government will be set up whose "first step will be to engage Maoist rebels in a dialogue that leads to a lasting and peaceful truce. After that the Constituent Assembly can start its work."

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