Nepal celebrates second anniversary of king’s ouster

April 22nd, 2008 - 2:19 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, April 22 (IANS) A Hindu kingdom till two years ago and ruled by an iron-fisted king who believed he was an incarnation of god, Nepal will celebrate Wednesday the second year of overthrowing the shackles of a feudal regime with sweeping changes that includes a new government to be headed by its former hunted-down guerrillas. On April 23, 2006, King Gyanendra, who had grabbed absolute power with the help of the army the year before and imposed an authoritarian rule for 14 months, was forced to step down as head of government following a national uprising with 19 days’ public protests that paralysed the state machinery.

On Wednesday, marking an irony of fate, the government of opposition parties that succeeded the royal regime will be holding celebrations at a public ground in the capital once dominated by the army.

History has been repeating itself eerily in Nepal with past happenings not only influencing the future but also recurring in a modified form.

Just as King Gyanendra’s bid in 2005 to become an omnipotent king echoed a similar attempt by his father in the 20th century, Wednesday will mark a second - and greater - defeat for the monarch, who, after having lost his government, power and privileges, now stands to lose his forefathers’ crown.

Nepal’s Election Commission said all results for the historic election this month, which for the first time enabled the voter to choose between the king and a republic, were likely to be out by Tuesday evening.

Counting trends indicate the king’s foes, the Maoist guerrillas, who fought a 10-year war with the aim of ending monarchy, will lead the new government.

The former rebels, who fought an election after 17 years, have won 120 of the 240 directly contested seats in the election to the 601-member constituent assembly, emerging as the largest party.

The former ruling parties, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), were routed in the election, securing only 37 and 33 seats respectively.

In the second phase of the election, decided through proportional representation, the Maoists have gained about one-third of the 335 seats.

Maoist chief Prachanda, who fought his first election in a political career spanning 30 years, Tuesday began consultations with the central leaders of his once underground party to discuss the formation of the new government.

The former insurgents say while Prachanda will head the government, they want the earlier coalition allies to remain with the inclusion of other parties.

However, the NC and UML will decide whether to join the Maoist-led government only after their central leaders meet this week.

The debutant ethnic party that emerged as the fourth largest in the direct contest is likely not to join forces with the Maoists.

The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, which won 30 seats and established itself as the new force in the Terai plains, is reportedly not ready to join the government.

The new changes have affected the king the worst with the abolition of the crown looming closer.

After the results are announced, the newly elected assembly will hold its first meeting in three weeks, where it will formally proclaim the end of monarchy.

It seems certain that the royals, once above law, will become commoners.

“I pledge that we will not keep any form of monarchy,” Prachanda said Monday at a public programme, eradicating the slender hope that the Maoists could agree to a ceremonial role for the king.

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