05/28/2008, 00.00
NEPAL
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Nepal, proclamation of Republic still awaited

by Kalpit Parajuli
A few hours' delay for the vote of the constitutional assembly, which should announce today the end of the Hindu monarchy. The political parties are probably wrapping up agreements on the separation of powers between the president and prime minister. The king has been given 15 days to leave the palace.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - A few hours' delay in the vote of the Nepalese constitutional assembly, which should announce a decision today on the central point of peace agreements with the former Maoist rebels: the end of the monarchy. People gathered in the streets are waiting with enthusiasm for the proclamation of Nepal as a democratic federal republic.  Thousands of Nepalese have marched, sung, and danced, and plan to continue the celebrations tonight.  The government has declared today a national holiday.  Security measures in the capital are particularly strict, with a curfew still in effect in some sensitive areas.

King Gyanendra, whose powers have already been revoked, could be removed by force from the royal palace in the centre of the capital Kathmandu, if he refuses to leave.  The speaker of the assembly, Subas Nemwang, explains to AsiaNews that if the king were to remain in the palace, it would be considered "an actionable legal offence".  According to sources in the political parties, the king will have 15 days to leave the palace once the republic has been proclaimed. Mohan Bidhya, aka Kiran, a Maoist representative, has said that Gyanendra "must retire to his private residence, the Nirmal Niwas, and begin a life as an ordinary citizen".

For 240 years, the tiny Himalayan country has been ruled by the only Hindu monarchy in the world. At the moment, the king is still living in the royal palace. The National Democratic Party Nepal, a pro-monarchy party represented in the constitutional assembly, has proposed the institution of a constitutional monarchy, maintaining the form of the Hindu kingdom. But there is practically no chance that this hypothesis will even be considered by the rest of the assembly. The end of the monarchy is an obligatory move following the peace agreements and above all after the April elections, won decisively by the Maoists, now the leading party in the country.

Analysts maintain that the delay in today's vote is due to discussions within the assembly on the separation of powers between the future president and prime minister.  At the moment, an agreement seems to have been reached among the parties on two points: to give the head of state the role of supreme commander of the army, which the king held; and to confer greater executive power on the prime minister.

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