M A I N   N E W S

Nepal King sacks Deuba govt
Assumes executive powers, declares emergency
Shirish B. Pradhan

Kathmandu, February 1
Nepal plunged into a political crisis today after King Gyanendra sacked the eight-month-old Sher Bahadur Deuba government, assumed all executive powers for the next three years and declared a state of emergency in the country battling Maoist insurgency.

Armoured vehicles with mounted machine guns patrolled the capital amidst reports that several politicians have been put under house arrest. All telephone lines, including mobile phone services, have been disconnected soon after the royal announcement.

In a brief comment to reporters, 59-year-old Deuba, whose house was surrounded by soldiers, said “we will oppose this step”.

Charging the Deuba government with failing to hold talks with Maoist rebels and conduct parliamentary elections by April, the king, in a televised address to the nation, said “I hereby dismiss the Deuba government and assume all executive powers, in line with the Constitution.”

“The government has not done anything with seriousness to start the election process within the stipulated time frame,” he said announcing Deuba’s second dismissal in three years.

The 55-year-old monarch, who assumed the throne in 2001 following the gunning down of his brother King Birendra, declared that a new government would be formed under his leadership that “will restore peace and effective democracy in this country within the next three years.”

Later, the state-run TV reported that a state of emergency had been declared in the country.

The king, who is also the supreme commander of the 78,000-member strong Nepalese Army, said security forces would be given more power to maintain law and order.

The king had appointed Deuba as Prime Minister in June 2004 and asked him to conduct parliamentary elections and hold peace talks with the Maoist rebels.

Holding the political parties responsible for the present crises facing the country, including the Maoist insurgency, King Gyanendra said “they (politicians) were only after power and neglected peoples’ interest”.

The king had also called the Maoists to surrender by laying down arms and promised to grant amnesty to those who do so.

On October 4, 2001, Gyanendra had dismissed Deuba terming him as incompetent after he recommended to defer the election date due to Maoist threat.

The opposition political parties, including the Nepali Congress, Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandidevi) and the Janamorcha Nepal have been agitating jointly against the royal move for the past two years, terming it as “regressive and anti-democratic”. — PTI

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