Kathmandu, July 4 (AFP): Members of Nepal’s dissolved parliament convened a new “session” today to protest King Gyanendra’s sacking of the elected government last year, with some leaders using the occasion to also denounce Maoist rebels.
Around a dozen riot police were posted outside the National City Hall in Kathmandu where about 90 per cent of the members from the defunct parliament turned up, but the police did not try to prevent the meeting, witnesses said.
Former Premier Girija Prasad Koirala, who was chosen as the speaker of the assembly, denounced Gyanendra for his “undemocratic” ways and called a new sitting of the parliament for tomorrow.
Madhav Kumar Nepal, the main Opposition leader in the last parliament, demanded Gyanendra reinstate the dissolved parliament but also used his time on the floor to denounce the Maoists, who have been observing a ceasefire since January.
While supporting talks with Maoists, Nepal said the rebels had been intimidating activists of his Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist and Leninist.
“On the one hand, the Maoists are talking of the peace dialogue, on the other, they are involved in criminal activities.”
"How can the peace dialogue be held successfully if the Maoists do not stop their activities'" he asked.
It was the third time members of the dissolved parliament have declared the assembly open. The first such session was May 28, and the political parties claim it helped lead to the resignation two days later of the royal-appointed premier, Lokendra Bahadur Chand.
Chand said he was quitting to pave the way for reconciliation. But his successor, Surya Bahadur Thapa, has had no luck making peace with the parties.
The king dissolved the parliament in June 2002 on the advice of then premier Sher Bahadur Deuba, who was himself removed from office in October when Gyanendra declared him "incompetent."
Thapa has said his government plans to hold a new round of talks with the Maoists, who reached a ceasefire with Chand's government January 29. The rebel insurgency aimed at toppling the constitutional monarchy has left more than 7,800 people dead since 1996.