M A I N   N E W S

King to hand over power to people
A betrayal, says Koirala
V. Mohan Narain

Kathmandu, April 21
Beleaguered King Gyanendra today offered to give up executive power and asked the seven-party alliance spearheading the pro-democracy movement to name a Prime Minister, but the parties were not enthused by his offer.

“Executive power shall from this day be returned to the people,” the King said in a televised address to the nation asking them to name a Prime Minister who would hold office till elections are held.

Initial reaction of the parties, which will formally consider the monarch’s offer tomorrow, indicated that they are unlikely to call off the fortnight-long agitation that has paralysed Kathmandu as they viewed his gambit as inadequate.

The King must not only give up the executive power but also the state power and he should restore Parliament which he had dissolved 14 months ago, Shekhar Koirala, a member of the National Committee of the Nepali Congress said.

“Our mandate is to get the Parliament reinstated, have a dialogue with Maoists and form a Constituent Assembly,” he said.

The King’s announcement came a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s special envoy Karan Singh met him and advised him early restoration of multiparty democracy and a dialogue with political parties in view of the deteriorating situation in the Kingdom.

With the capital remaining under siege by pro-democracy activists for the second day, a grim looking 58-year old monarch said a meaningful exercise in democracy must be ensured with the activation of representative bodies through elections as soon as possible.

“We, therefore, request the seven-party alliance to recommend at the earliest a name for the post of Prime Minister who will have the responsibility to run the government,” he said adding the present Council of Ministers would continue till this was done.

Affirming his commitment to multiparty democracy and the constitution monarchy, Gyanendra hoped that peace and order would be restored in the country.

The seven-party alliance will be meeting tomorrow to discuss the King’s offer which Koirala described as betrayal and an attempt to hoodwink the people and the international community.

He said the King has only announced that he would relinquish executive power and not state power which he was expected to transfer to the alliance. The situation is not conducive for elections.

Another Nepali Congress leader Ramchandra Podyal said the King’s offer was not in accordance with the alliance roadmap.

Amrit Vohra, senior Politburu member of CPN-UML, said the pro-democracy agitation would continue till all their demands were met.

However, Nepal’s Information Minister Shishir Rana said the King did refer to Maoists and addressed political demands to surrender executive power. — PTI

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