The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Deuba’s alliance hope fades

Kathmandu, Oct. 6: Two days after King Gyanendra sacked Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and assumed executive powers, political parties are still trying to chart out a common strategy.

The parties are yet to decide on how to respond to the king’s call to recommend within five days names of “persons who have clean images and who will not be participating in the forthcoming general elections” to be part of a new government.

The king’s Friday night proclamation had said that such a government would hold the elections postponed by him during the day. The all-party meeting called for today has been put off till tomorrow. Deuba’s hopes for a grand alliance in his support, however, seems to have become dimmer. There are indications that the political parties will try to reach some compromise with the king on the shape of the future government.

King Gyanendra met president of the Nepali Congress, Girija Prasad Koirala, and the general secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) during the day. But the contents of the meeting have not been made public. Speculation is rife about who will head the new government but nothing has become clear.

Two of the ministers in the outgoing Cabinet, who had been summoned by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to answer charges of corruption, have been placed under police surveillance and told not to leave the Kathmandu Valley. This includes, Chiranjivi Wagle, the vice-president of the Nepali Congress (Democratic) led by Sher Bahadur Deuba.

In another significant move, the government ordered people who have been using vehicles belonging to the government and semi-government institutions to return them within two days or face action. This is aimed at politicians who have refused to surrender the vehicles they borrowed while in office.

There have been reports of the king’s action being welcomed by various organisations, and processions in his support were taken out in many parts of Nepal. There were also demonstrations against the king, mainly by affiliates of the CPN (UML), the largest communist party.

The largest-circulation daily, Kantipur, commented in a front-page editorial that the people would be disinclined to back political parties if they protested and that the political parties are to blame for the present situation.

It, however, warned that groups active in the pre-democratic era before 1990 should not assume their time has come again since it would prove counter-productive to both the monarchy and democracy.

‘Not a coup’

King Gyanendra will hand power to an interim administration this week and has no plans to rule the world’s only Hindu kingdom himself, a palace official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “His Majesty has to form a new government. He has no intention of keeping executive power with himself. It is not a coup,” he said.

“The timeframe for the new government has been set,” the official said. “The ball is now in the court of the political parties.”

“They have to decide if they want to cooperate and take the train on the right track.

“If they don’t, his majesty will anyway go ahead and appoint an interim government. A situation where we don’t have a government is only for five days and after that there will be a government. It will be in charge of executive power and security as well,” he said.

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