04/14/2006, 00.00
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King proposes elections, parties refuse

by Prakash Dubey
For many political activists, there is nothing new in the King's promises; he has not taken into account demands by pro-democracy groups to rewrite the constitution.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – In Nepal no one is placing much trust in King Gyanendra's pledge to hold general elections. In a short televised speech the Nepalese monarch announced yesterday his intention to call elections but did not indicate when they would be held, but today, Nepal's political parties rejected the offer. In the meantime the mass movement against direct royal rule (in place since February 205) that began on April 6 shows no signs of abetting.

"It is our hope that with the active participation of all political parties who care about peace and democracy, a multiparty system can become fully operational through general elections," the king said in his Nepalese New Year message.

In his appeal to the political parties that are in favour of dialogue, he left out the Maoist rebels who struck a deal with opposition parties last year.

For some activists contacted by AsiaNews, the royal statement does not change the standoff. "The problem is that he has failed to consider political parties' main request, namely a transitional government that would appoint a constituent assembly to write a new constitution that would not allow any repeat of the current situation," said women rights activist Meena Ghimire.

The king had previously pledged elections for April 2007 and his latest move seems to be a manoeuvre to defuse the massive campaign against him.

So far the last wave of demonstrations and general strike have cost the lives of five people who died in clashes with law enforcement units.

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A sixth demonstrator dies as unrest continues and people start to go hungry
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Power back to parliament, opposition names new prime minister in Kathmandu
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