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    » 02/08/2005, 00.00

    NEPAL

    Kings offers talks to rebels as he cracks down on them



    The poor side with King Gyanendra in his fight against corrupt parties, but democracy in the Himalayan nation takes the backseat.

    Kathamandu (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Mixed signals from King Gyanendra after he took over the reins of power last week and imposed a state of emergency in the Himalayan nation.

    Phone lines and internet connections have been re-established after eight days, but voicing criticism of the King's actions is still banned.

    The Nepali Royal Air force carried our raids against Maoist rebel targets in the west of the country, but the new government offered to hold unconditional talks with the rebels.

    Tensions are still running high though a week after Prime Minister Deuba Sher Bahadur Deuba and his government were removed from office. Their successors announced on state-run media yesterday that public comments "made directly or indirectly" about the security forces "that are likely to have a negative impact on their morale" were banned, and violators could be arrested. Furthermore, political activities by public servants are outlawed with the authorities reserving the right to seize private property when necessary.

    Journalists who criticised the royal coup and the suspension of civil liberties and the imposition of a state of emergency have been arrested. Tara Nath Dahal, president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), was detained whilst seeking asylum at the United Nations Mission in the Nepali capital. Bishnu Nisthuri, the FNJ Secretary General, was taken from his home last Friday and is now in the custody of security forces.

    Among the population, the King's actions have however found support and justification as a way to deal with the Maoist insurgency.

    "What the king has done is great. Only he can sort out this mess. We hate these politicians because all they want is power and money. I'm glad he's taken these powers," shopkeeper Yadav Adhikary said.

    King Gyanendra had been critical of how the politicians had failed to solve the conflict that has killed 11,000 since 1996 and impoverished the nation.

    But not all Nepalis approve the King's illiberal measures. "In my whole life, this is the worst situation in which my country has found itself", said Surresh Devota, a Kathmandu construction worker.

    "He's heading the same way as the shah of Iran, towards disaster," said Krishna Hachhethho, a professor at the Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies.

    Political analysts believe that the King's actions have support among the lower classes of Nepali society, outraged at government corruption and tired of the ongoing rebellion.

    By contrast, better off and better educated Nepalis reject the move concerned that it is backward step in the process of democratisation that began in the early 1990s. Instead, more time and patience should have been given to this process so that it would have sunk deeper roots and stabilised the country. (LF)

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    See also

    14/06/2006 NEPAL
    King Gyanendra's government as well as Maoist rebels bought weapons from China
    Maoist rebels have the latest in military hardware which they paid for by trafficking in marijuana and exotic animals as well as extortions.

    10/04/2006 NEPAL
    Three shot dead as protesters clash with police
    Passer-by wounded on Saturday dies yesterday. Demonstrators call on the king to restore democratic rule. Government wants to stifle protests to crush Maoist rebellion.

    25/01/2006 NEPAL
    Sister Nirmala's message of love to Nepal
    Our correspondent describes the journey the Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity made to her country of origin, currently racked by a Maoist revolt. Addressing the government, rebels and the population, she said that love is the "only solution" to reach peace. Hindu and Christians of other denominations give her a warm welcome.

    02/02/2005 NEPAL
    New government, King suspends civil liberties
    The state of emergency is maintained in Nepal. Dozens of people are arrested as communications with the outside are cut off.

    26/04/2006 NEPAL
    Nepalis celebrate king-opposition agreement, Maoists reject it
    Thousands of people pour into the streets to celebrate the return of parliament. Maoist rebels denounce the agreement between the king and opposition parties, pledging to continue strikes and demonstrations.



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