Nepal king prays for divine intervention

May 12th, 2008 - 1:28 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 12 (IANS) With just 17 days left for the abolition of his two-century-old ancestral throne, Nepal’s distressed King Gyanendra Monday sought divine intervention once again, offering animal sacrifices to a Hindu goddess of power. Security was tightened at the temple of Dakshinkali on the outskirts of Kathmandu with the king and his queen Komal scheduled to offer five live animals and birds at the seat of the goddess believed to destroy the worshipper’s enemies.

This is the embattled monarch’s first public appearance since the critical election last month where for the first time in Nepal’s history, over 17 million people voted the king out and instead gave power to monarchy’s bitterest foe, the former Maoist guerrillas, who fought a bloody 10-year war to scrap the kingdom’s royal dynasty, once revered as gods.

Ironically, the king had offered the same sacrifices at the temple last year, making it his first public appearance since the fall of his 14-month regime after a national uprising led by the Maoists.

Analysts say only divine intervention or another coup can save the king from impending doom with the latter seeming unlikely as the army, that had helped Gyanendra to seize power three years ago, has learnt its lesson.

By May 29, the newly elected constituent assembly has to hold its first meeting and formally declare an end to Nepal’s 239-year-old Shah dynasty of kings.

The Maoists, who emerged as the largest party after the election with 220 seats in the 601-member assembly, have stepped up parleys with other key parties in a bid to form the next government.

Maoist supremo Prachanda, who has announced his intention to head the new government, Monday held talks with three powerful student unions affiliated to his own party, the communists and Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress.

The Maoists are also trying to forge an understanding with the Terai parties that have emerged as regional powers after the election.

So far, the Maoist bid has been stymied by two factors.

Koirala, despite his party’s rout in the election and rising public sentiment against his leadership, is refusing to let go, both as head of government and chief of his party. Party sources say he is now trying to negotiate with the Maoists for the post of president, which would be created after the drafting of the new constitution.

However, the former rebels are against the wish, demanding the exit of both the king and prime minister.

The communists, whose support is crucial for the formation of a new government, want the constitution to be amended first.

At present, two-third of the members in parliament have to consent to form a new government or dissolve the existing one.

While the Maoists support it, the communists say a simple majority in the house should suffice and say it is needed to ensure that the Maoists don’t try to assume dictatorship after coming to power.

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