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People dictate snub to palace

Kathmandu, April 22: The people in the street in Nepal are making history. They are dictating the mandate of their political leaders and denouncing in tens of thousands the royal proclamation as “deception”.

It was no surprise then that the seven-party alliance of Nepal today rejected King Gyanendra’s offer of selecting a new Prime Minister.

The parties rejected the offer as it “did not address the agenda of the parties and the aspirations of the people”.

Even while they deliberated the royal offer at Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala’s residence, the outcome was a foregone conclusion.

However, the people took no chances. They stood outside to ensure that there was no compromise with the king.

“The andolan (movement) will continue,” Koirala declared from the roof of his house. “The king’s proclamation is meaningless,” said Madhav Nepal, general secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist).

The parties laid out their roadmap to peace and democracy as the reinstatement of Parliament, formation of an all-party interim government, a dialogue with the Maoists and elections to a Constituent Assembly.

“For all this, the Royal Nepal Army must come under the control of the interim government,” said Navraj Subedi, secretary general of the Jan Morcha, a constituent of the alliance.

The US Ambassador and the European Union ambassadors met leaders of the political parties to persuade them to accept the king’s offer. They urged them to lay down conditions for forming an interim government. However, their efforts were in vain.

“Why don’t they bully the king instead of bullying us'” a leader asked.

“Our not forming a government is also an admonition to India,” said a Nepali Congress leader upset with India’s reaction.

“Our roadmap should be implemented fully along with the 12-point understanding with the Maoists. The king has insulted our programme and the people’s wishes. So we reject his proclamation,” said Amrit Vohra, a politburo member of the CPN (UML).

The decision of the parties was a result not only of the inadequacy of the king’s offer but also of people’s pressure. They came out in the streets, occasionally clashed with police, and despite the curfew, took control of Thamel, barely a kilometre from the royal palace. Only sudden rain saved Kathmandu today.

The international community now seems confused. If the political parties form a parallel government, as they are reportedly deliberating, then that would pose a very serious challenge to them.

“For a beleaguered king, the only lifeline is the international fear of chaos. Should we allow a parallel government to fill the gap if he is swept aside'” asked a diplomat.

For the king to relent and avoid these imponderables, there is a feeling that a very message must come from the international community. Only then a reasonable solution might still emerge. Or else, there might only be extreme solutions left.

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