02/03/2005, 00.00
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Royal takeover seen as pro-China, anti-West

Kathmandu (AsiaNews/Agencies) – King Gyanendra's takeover of the reins of power is seen by many as a shift towards China, away from the West.

For many Asia analysts, the move reflects shifting political interests. The US, the UK, the UN and India have condemned the dismissal of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's cabinet and the King's decision to directly run the country. By contrast, China has not yet made any public comment, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quanit simply commenting that it was "an internal affair of Nepal".

Nepali analyst Deepak Thapa, head of the Kathmandu-based Himal Association's Social Science Centre, said the king "is perhaps indicating that he values China's friendship".

Evidence of the King's desire for a rapprochement with Beijing came last Friday when the Kathmandu offices of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, were closed.

Over the week-end, Nepal's ousted prime minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, had praised China's friendship as he inaugurated the Chinese-funded building of Nepal Television which includes 77 infrastructure projects at a cost of US$ 185 million.  

In the meantime, the front page headline in Nepali-language weekly Ghatana Ra Vichaar, published yesterday, said: "Under the leadership of his majesty the king the democratic rule of the 21st century begins", a title whose meaning a local reporter said had to be "read between the lines".

What did not have to be read between the lines was the King's decision to suspend civil liberties, including freedom of expression, as well as the reaction of the King's political opponents' to his pledge to "restore democracy in three years": too long.

Maoist rebels instead have declared a three-day strike in areas under their control to protest against the move. (LF)


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