Countdown begins for end of Nepal monarchy

April 25th, 2008 - 1:57 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, April 25 (IANS) The legend of a royal curse and other black myths will finally come true in Nepal in three weeks, marking the end of the nation’s once all-powerful royal lineage of Shah kings. The countdown for cornered King Gyanendra began Friday with the Election Commission moving towards the official declaration of the April 10 election results that signal the end of the road for the Shah dynasty of kings.

Under the constitution, within three weeks the newly elected 601-member constituent assembly will hold its first meeting and implement last year’s parliamentary proclamation that seeks to abolish the nearly 250-year-old monarchy to become a federal republic.

“There will be no compromise with the king,” thundered Prachanda, chief of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist that won the historic election. “All manifestations of monarchy will end and a republic will come into existence.”

As soon as it became apparent that they were going to win the constituent assembly election by a huge margin, the Maoist leadership held consultations with the chief of the biggest royalist party that had fought the election in support of monarchy and lost.

Kamal Thapa, King Gyanendra’s home minister during the last days of the royal regime, was humbled in the election when his Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal failed to win any seat in the 240 directly contested seats and he himself lost his deposit.

However, the newly formed party was saved from annihilation by the second phase of the election, in which it will get three to five seats of the 335 contested under the proportional representation system.

Prachanda met Thapa to convey a message to the king, a Maoist leader said.

“The intention was to facilitate the exit of the king after the country rooted for a republic,” Maoist leader Chandra Prakash Gajurel, in charge of the party’s foreign affairs, told a magazine Friday.

“The royalists agreed to convey the message to the king. However, we do not know what his reaction was.”

The Maoists, who have won about 220 of the 601 seats and have said they would lead the new government, say the king will have to leave the Narayanhity Palace and return to the private residence where he stayed in the past when he was a mere prince with no possibility of ascending the throne.

“If he leaves the palace voluntarily, we will ensure the protection of his right to live in the country as a distinguished citizen,” said another Maoist leader, Baburam Bhattarai.

While the moderates among the Maoists were not opposed to the king enjoying some civic and cultural rights even after becoming an ordinary citizen, the hardliners are opposing any privilege to the royals, once regarded as divinities.

Gajurel said a new commission would be formed to assess King Gyanendra’s properties. “If the king helps in that, he may be allowed to retain his personal property,” Gajuel said.

In the last two years, after the fall of King Gyanendra’s short-lived government, the ruling alliance of opposition parties tried to gauge the extent of the royal property and nationalise the part belonging to slain king Birendra.

However, the palace ignored repeated calls by the government to submit property details of the royal family and the nationalisation process was botched.

After the landslide victory of the Maoists, the king’s hope of a last-minute reprieve dimmed with foreign governments like the US and India accepting the public verdict.

The outcome of the polls has revived the memory of an ancient curse that predicted the fall of the Shah dynasty after 10 generations.

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