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Koirala challenges ouster of Deuba govt

Kathmandu, Nov. 26 (PTI): Former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala today challenged the sacking of the Sher Bahadur Deuba government by King Gyanendra and urged him to return power to the people.

Calling the October 4 royal takeover of the government as “uncontitutional”, Koirala asked the king to follow the path of democracy chosen by King Birendra.

“King Birendra had handed sovereign power to the people, whereas the present king has taken over all the executive powers,” he said at a rally organised by the Nepal Students’ Union, student wing of the Nepali Congress.

He also urged the youth to launch a struggle for democracy at the massive rally held amidst heavy deployment of security forces and fears over his arrest.

Nepali Congress central working committee member Krishna Prasad Sitaula said the king’s proclamation on October 4 has put a question mark on the fundamental principle of the constitution that sovereign power lies with the people.

“The king’s personal ambition and craze for power might be harmful for the institution of monarchy in the long run,” he warned adding that the monarch should rectify the mistakes and hand over power to the people.

Nepali Congress spokesman Arjun Narsingh said the king’s action has taken back the people’s sovereign power established through the 1990 people’s movement.

Criticising the formation of the caretaker government headed by Lokendra Bahadur Chand, he said the team of “technicians” cannot solve the political problems plaguing the country.

Koirala also said the crisis in the Himalayan nation cannot be solved without resolving the Maoist issue. The party was ready to make necessary changes in the constitution to bring the rebels into the mainstream, he said.

However, Koirala said there cannot be any compromise on multi-party democracy and constitutional monarchy, the fundamental principles of the constitution. He rejected the Maoist demand to hold election for the constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution.

“The Maoist problem can only be solved within the parliament. Therefore, there is no option but to revive the parliament which was dissolved in May,” he said. The former Prime Minister urged a broader democratic alliance with all political parties that believe in parliamentary democracy.

US travel warning

The state department urged Americans yesterday to defer non-essential travel to Nepal because of a written threat from Maoist rebels to attack American diplomats.

The warning, issued by the US embassy in New Delhi, says a statement by the Maoists on November 15 takes responsibility for the kidnapping and killing of two Nepalese security guards employed by the US embassy in Kathmandu. “Included in the press release are threats of further violence against any party or diplomatic communities working against the Maoists,” the department said. “This includes the American diplomatic mission.”

The warning by the Maoists restated their policy of not attacking foreign tourists. Even so, the repeated threats against American diplomats suggest that any American could be in danger, particularly those travelling outside the capital.

It was unclear what prompted the Maoist threat. The Bush administration asked Congress in June to provide $20 million in aid to the Nepalese government to help it defeat the Maoists.

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