Nepal government to claim vacated palace Sunday

June 14th, 2008 - 2:21 pm ICT by IANS  


Kathmandu, June 14 (IANS) Nepal’s best-known historical monument, the royal palace, which was vacated Wednesday by the last king of the former Himalayan kingdom, will be formally taken over Sunday by the government. At a ceremony to which the heads of Nepal’s diplomatic missions, chiefs of the political parties, ministers, bureaucrats and eminent personalities have been invited, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who now holds deposed king Gyanendra’s position as head of state, will formally hoist Nepal’s national flag at the Narayanhity royal palace.

The flag-hoisting will symbolise the passing away of a powerful clan’s proud possession into the hands of the people as the palace would be gradually converted into a national museum.

Nepal became a republic officially May 28 when its newly elected lawmakers created history at their first meeting and proclaimed the former Hindu kingdom a secular, federal republic.

Within 24 hours of the proclamation, dethroned king Gyanendra ordered his staff to lower the royal standard at the palace, signifying that he had accepted the verdict of the nation with grace.

Unruly mobs besieged the palace soon after the proclamation and stuck the triangular Nepali national flag at the main palace gate.

While the former king would not be present at the flag-hoisting, his 80-year-old stepmother Ratna and an old servitor, who was the mistress of his grandfather Tribhuvan, have been allowed by the government to stay on in their old quarters inside the palace.

The former king and queen Komal were allowed to shift from the palace, where five kings had lived, into the Nagarjuna palace, an old summer retreat of the former royals on the outskirts of Kathmandu.

However, with both civil society and the parties criticising the decision, the Maoists this week said the ousted king would soon have to vacate Nagarjuna as well and use his own resources to find an alternate accommodation.

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