Nepal parties propose May dates for king’s ouster

May 9th, 2008 - 6:21 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 9 (IANS) Nepal’s ruling parties Friday asked Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to call the crucial first meeting of the newly-elected constituent assembly in the last week of this month, further tightening the noose around the neck of King Gyanendra, who is poised to be the last monarch in a dynasty that spanned nearly two and a half centuries. Except one minor partner in the seven-party ruling alliance, the remaining six including the Maoists, held their first meeting Friday after the historic election last month, to discuss how to conduct the first meeting of the 601-member constituent assembly.

There was a sense of emergency after the Election Commission Thursday formally declared the results of the April 10 constituent assembly election.

As per the interim constitution, the assembly would have to hold its first meeting by May 29 and formally deliver the coup de grace to King Gyanendra.

A statement issued after the meeting said the parties have proposed to the premier that the critical meeting be called between May 25 and 28.

Prior to that, the leading parties will also have to finalise the nomination of 26 more representatives to complete the assembly.

While 575 members were elected in two separate phases, the remaining are to be nominated by the prime minister in consultation with the major parties to rectify any exclusion that might occur despite the election.

A 10-member team comprising representatives from the ruling parties was formed Friday to nominate the remaining members.

The first meeting of the assembly, an event that would be the cynosure of all eyes, would be held ironically at an international convention centre at the heart of the capital named after the king’s predecessor, his slain brother Birendra.

The parliament as well as ministerial complex have been deemed too small to accommodate the members, foreign dignitaries, journalists and officials.

The palace maintained its sphinx-like silence while the few parties that had supported monarchy in the past threw in the towel.

A senior member of Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Nepal’s old royalist party that was routed in the election with only eight seats in the assembly, said the king had dug his own grave.

“We were the only party that could have offered him some protection,” he said on condition of anonymity. “But the king (during his absolute reign) declared war on us and split the party into three factions, weakening his own support base.”

A veteran journalist, however, predicted that the unceremonious ouster of the king would create a dangerous vacuum.

“The crown has been an integral part of Hindu religious programmes,” said Babita Basnet, chief of Sancharika Samuha, a women communicators’ forum.

“With Nepal becoming a secular state, in future the head of state could be a Muslim or a Christian. Would they be able to fulfil the socio-religious role the king used to perform? It would create a social crisis.”

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