M A I N   N E W S

Nepal lifts emergency
No word on Press freedom, political activity
Shirish B. Pradhan

Kathmandu, April 30
Under increasing pressure from India and other countries, Nepal’s King Gyanendra today lifted the state of emergency imposed after he grabbed power on February 1. But it was not clear if Press censorship and ban on political activities had also been removed.

“His Majesty in accordance with the constitution has lifted the order of the state of emergency,” a brief Royal Palace statement said, hours after the King’s return from a three-nation tour, where leaders pressed him for restoration of democracy in the kingdom.

The King, who visited Indonesia, China and Singapore, had assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Jakarta last week on the sidelines of the Afro-Asian summit that he would initiate steps for early restoration of multi-party democracy. Despite the King’s assurance, deposed Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba was arrested on corruption charges on Wednesday.

The Royal announcement did not make any mention of the restoration of Press freedom and removal of ban on political activities.

Political parties welcomed the monarch’s decision but said this was not enough as hundreds of political activists continued in detention. They asked the King to restore the constitution and return all executive powers to people’s representatives.

Notwithstanding the withdrawal of the state of emergency, public meetings and demonstrations would not be allowed in most of the places in Kathmandu.

The ban on FM and private radio stations to broadcast news, views and information continued and Nepal’s cable operators were still not allowed to air Indian news channels. Under Nepal’s constitution, the state of emergency would have expired on Sunday, three months after it came into force.

The state of emergency was lifted as per Article 115 (11) of the constitution, effective from midnight, the Royal Palace said.

Meanwhile, Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala alleged that the lifting of emergency by the King was a move to “deceive” the international community, which is exerting tremendous pressure on Nepal to revive democracy.

He demanded the formation of an all-party government and reinstatement of parliament to resolve the current political stalemate.

Welcoming the King’s announcement, Nepali Congress (Democratic) acting president Gopal Man Shrestha said the Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) formed by the King should be abolished with the termination of emergency.

The King should return all executive powers to people’s representatives and the constitution should be restored, he said. — PTI


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