Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Nepal gripped by political crisis

"Nepal's King Gyanendra unveiled a new cabinet, a day after sacking the government and imposing an indefinite state of emergency in a move that has sparked international condemnation (...) The king announced he would head the new government after the previous administration failed to ensure security in the face of the Maoist rebellion that has claimed more than 11,000 lives since 1996 (...) The king's dismissal of the ruling coalition was condemned by the United States, United Nations, Britain and India as a setback for democracy" (Turkish Press)

"Gyanendra will head the cabinet, Nepal radio announced. The report gave no further details, other than to list the members of the cabinet, which is heavily dominated by the king's supporters. There was no immediate reaction from opposition parties, though phone lines throughout the country remain cut." (CBC News)

"Soldiers were seen surrounding the houses of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other government leaders on Tuesday, while armored vehicles with mounted machine guns patrolled the streets of Kathmandu. (...) Even before the announcement, commentators said the king was unhappy with the prime minister for continually deferring elections -- a mandate given to him by the king when he appointed him to the post in June. Deuba found himself in a deep political bind -- caught between the king and other political forces. He was fired in October 2002, sparking massive street protests, and was reinstated with the task of holding elections. (...) The king acceded to the throne in 2001 after his brother King Birendra was killed in a massacre at the royal palace." (CNN)

"The United States said it was "deeply troubled" by the dismissal of premier Sher Bahadur Deuba's government in Nepal and termed the development "a step back from democracy", which could undermine the Himalayan kingdom's struggle against Maoist insurgency" (New Kerala)

"The Maoist rebels, who have been fighting to topple the constitutional monarchy since 1996, called for a three-day general strike from Wednesday to protest against the king's actions, PTI said. The rebel leader, Prachanda, who uses one name, said the king's action smacked of "medieval feudal autocracy." (...) Sacked Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba was Nepal's 13th premier in 14 turbulent years as a constitutional monarchy. The country has had no parliament since 2002. Phone links with the impoverished country, snapped after the king's move, continued to be disrupted." (Reuters)

This political crisis adds up to the precedent ones: The start of an anti-monarchy maoist insurgency (1995), massacre of the king and other royal family members by the crown prince (2001). PM Deuba dismissed by the king, then re-appointed, then re-dismissed (2002, 2004 & 2005).
Nepal is an impoverished country with chronic political unstability and a civil war...
Whether the country's political system will become again a form of absolute monarchy or will turn into a maoist utopia is anyone's guess. If it ever joins the US list of "axe of evil" countries (recently rebranded as "outposts of tyrannies"), I will be surprised for one good reason: There is no oil in Nepal.


Turkish Press, Turkey:
CBC News, Canada:
CNN International:
New Kerala, India:


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