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Gyanendra keen on life as citizen: Nepal

Kathmandu, June 2 (Reuters): Nepal’s deposed King Gyanendra is eager to live as a common citizen, the government said today, after their first meeting since the monarchy was abolished last week.

While political parties squabbled over the key posts of President and Prime Minister in the world’s newest republic, the former king appeared reconciled to the end of his family’s 239-year-old royal dynasty and preparing to move out of the palace.

“I found him eager to live like a common citizen,” home minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula told reporters after a 30-minute meeting with the former monarch.

“He said: ‘I have taken the decision easily’,” the minister said, referring to the abolition of the monarchy. Sitaula said Gyanendra was expected to leave the palace within the two weeks he has been granted, and was looking for a house since his son Paras was living in his private home.

A specially elected Assembly abolished the Himalayan nation’s monarchy last week and ordered Gyanendra to vacate his palace within two weeks. But political parties, including the Maoist former rebels who won a surprise victory in April’s elections, are yet to agree on how to form a new government.

The Maoists, who emerged as the biggest political party in the Assembly but lack a majority, want both the posts of Prime Minister and President.

Nepal’s parties have agreed to have a symbolic President and a powerful Prime Minister in the new republican system.

But the centrist Nepali Congress, the second-biggest group in the Assembly, say the Maoists are demanding too much. “They can’t have both the posts of a Prime Minister and the President at the same time,” said Ram Chandra Poudel, a senior leader of the Nepali Congress.

The Maoists want to have a totalitarian system and we cannot allow this to happen,” he added. “We’ll not kneel down.” Under a 2006 peace deal, the Maoists have confined more than 19,000 former fighters to camps and locked their weapons in containers monitored by the UN.

Poudel, who is also peace and reconstruction minister, said the Maoists should hand their weapons over to the government or destroy them, return property they seized during the war and disband their youth wing before forming a new government.

The Maoist youth wing, the Young Communist League, has been blamed for continued violence and intimidation. Senior Maoist leader and local development minister Dev Gurung accused the Nepali Congress of double standards. Its leader, outgoing Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, also performed the ceremonial duties of the head of state after Gyanendra was stripped of almost all of his powers.

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