Kathmandu, Oct. 7 (Reuters): Nepal’s main political parties said today they were prepared to cooperate with King Gyanendra on forming an interim government to ensure an early return to constitutional rule in the Himalayan kingdom.
But the parties, who played down talk of a confrontation with the king over his decision to sack the Prime Minister and temporarily take over running the country, insisted on respect for the 1990 Constitution that ushered in multi-party democracy.
The king, who came to the throne after the murder of his brother in a palace massacre in June 2001, sacked Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Friday after Deuba asked him to postpone a November 13 general election for a year because of rebel threats.
It was the first time a king had assumed direct power since parliamentary democracy replaced absolute monarchy in 1990.
In Kathmandu, a small home-made bomb exploded in a shopping mall while political parties held a second round of discussions at a house a few miles away.
The bomb, placed in a toilet in the mall in the heart of Kathmandu, did not cause any casualties or damage.
Kathmandu has been hit by a string of small explosions since the end of a state of emergency on August 28 against Maoist rebels who are fighting to overthrow Nepal’s constitutional monarchy.
During the political party meeting, officials said senior leaders would seek a collective audience with the king to discuss ways out of Nepal’s latest political crisis and clarifications about the nature of an interim government.
“We have decided the interim government should be formed in consultation with and with the participation of all six political parties (represented in the dissolved Parliament),” Madhav Kumar Nepal, general secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal, told reporters after the second round of political discussions.
Earlier, Nepali Congress spokesman Arjun Narasingh said the party would “cooperate with his majesty if the process goes in accordance with the Constitution”.
“We want an interim arrangement and power should go to the interim government.”
The Nepali Congress was the largest party in a Parliament dissolved in May against the backdrop of a bloody Maoist revolt against the monarchy.
The communists, the second largest party in the Parliament, took a similar tack.
“We should find a way out according to the spirit of the Constitution,” Madhav Kumar added. “There is a need to have a good understanding among all the political forces here.”
The talks brought together six parties in the dissolved Parliament.
The king called for an interim government to oversee elections and gave the parties until Wednesday to come up with names, including that of an interim Prime Minister who would organise but not contest the election.
A palace official said the king would hand over to an interim administration and had no plans to abandon the constitutional monarchy and rule the world’s only Hindu kingdom himself.
Deuba has described his sacking as unconstitutional and undemocratic.
The main parties, while not supporting him, say they need to know the terms of reference, mandate and accountability of the interim government before deciding whether to join.
At least 5,000 people have been killed since the Maoists began their fight in 1996. The revolt, aimed at setting up a one-party, communist republic, has shattered the economy, scaring off tourists, hitting growth and wrecking infrastructure.
The rebels had vowed to disrupt the election and called for a general strike to coincide with its first phase in November.
In the latest violence, the defence ministry said soldiers killed 13 rebels in separate battles in west Nepal yesterday, but in the capital, Kathmandu, life appeared normal.
Foreign tourists moved freely around the city.
“No, I am not worried,” Carol Winkelmann, a linguistics professor from the US, said. “I have been here for some time and feel safe. The Nepali people are good and I don’t feel threatened.”