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Democracy protests rock Nepal

Kathmandu, June 13 (Reuters): Thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of the Nepali capital today in the biggest protest since King Gyanendra last week appointed a royalist Prime Minister.

“We don’t approve the king’s regressive steps,” said the demonstrators, estimated to number more than 5,000. “Restore democracy,” read placards carried by them.

The protesters demanded Gyanendra restore parliament that was disbanded last year or form a national unity government from the country’s five main political parties.

The king last week named Surya Bahadur Thapa to replace caretaker Prime Minister Lokendra Bahadur Chand, also a staunch monarchist, who resigned after eight months of protests from opposition groups who called his appointment by the king illegal.

Nepal’s main political parties had demanded the king name their candidate as Chand’s successor. The parties refused to join a Cabinet headed by Thapa, forcing him to form a six-member ministry from within his party this week.

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