The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi cautious on Deuba sacking

New Delhi, Oct. 5: India reacted cautiously to the sacking of Sher Bahadur Deuba as Nepal’s Prime Minister by King Gyanendra last night but expressed hope that the crisis would soon be resolved and a person with well-established democratic credentials would be brought in to lead the country in the interim period.

“We hope the present crisis will be resolved within the framework of constitutional processes for peace, stability and development of Nepal,” foreign ministry spokesperson Nirupama Rao said.

“India’s position is well-known. We have always supported a multi-party democracy and constitutional monarchy in Nepal.”

Rao pointed out that “the origins of the present crisis are known. It has been developing over some time. Just last week all the political parties in Nepal had come to the conclusion that elections could not be held in the present circumstances and should be postponed.”

Political parties in Nepal are questioning Deuba’s sacking at this juncture. Many of them believe it was done to prevent parties and candidates from filing nominations for next month’s general elections, scheduled to begin from October 5.

The Nepalese King has indicated that in five days a new Prime Minister and Cabinet would be chosen to lead the country in the interim period.

Gyanendra has asked political parties to name persons of their choice for the Prime Ministership or as members of the new Cabinet.

Though not said in so many words, India would not be too happy if a monarchist was brought in as Deuba’s replacement. King Gyanendra, who realised it would be difficult to continue to support Deuba for long, had been looking for a replacement for the past few weeks.

Gyanendra has laid down two criterions for the interim Prime Minister — he should have a clean record and should be prepared not to contest elections for six years. But irrespective of who is chosen to head the government, the signals are clear that the palace will play a more significant role in the running the country.

The names of former Prime Ministers like K.N. Bishta, Bishwanath Upadhyaya and Lokendra Bahadur Chand are doing the rounds as probables for heading the interim government.

But Gyanendra might be looking for a technocrat or a politician with a clean record to ensure that Nepal smoothly tides over this political crisis and continues to get the support of the international community in its efforts. However, the King also wants to ensure a bigger role for himself, much of it behind the scenes, but a more significant role than what he had been playing so far.

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