-  Sunday 20 September 2020

    Nepal royalists demonstrate in support of monarchy

     -  AFP

    Jan 08 2008, Kathmandu - Two thousand pro-royal demonstrators massed in Nepal's capital in the first major protest against a decision by parliament to abolish the monarchy and create a republic.

    "Long live the constitutional monarchy," shouted the protesters as they marched through the centre of the ancient capital, led by the pro-royalist Rastriya Prajantantra Party (Nepal).

    The protest marked the first major demonstration against parliament's decision last month to end the 293-year-old monarchy and declare the country a republic -- one of the key demands of former Maoist rebels.

    "For a long time we remained silent and were spectators to political developments but now we're forced to take to the streets to save the nation," party leader Kamal Thapa told the crowd, estimated by police at 2,000.

    The Maoists quit the government in September in a row over the future of the monarchy and other issues but returned late last month after lawmakers agreed to abolish the institution.

    The ultra-leftists, who waged a bloody decade-long revolt to topple the monarchy, formally ended their insurgency in late 2006 when they concluded a landmark peace deal with Nepal's mainstream parties.

    King Gyanendra, revered by supporters as a reincarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, known as the protector, has already been stripped of most of his powers.

    He was forced to end 14 months of direct rule in April 2006 following mass street protests staged by mainstream parties and the Maoists.

    Gyanendra will remain on the throne for the time-being as the deal between the Maoists and the government to make Nepal a republic will only be put into effect at the first meeting of a new constituent assembly.

    Polls for that assembly are due to be held by mid-April.

    Pro-royalist Thapa branded the decision by Nepal's interim parliament to abolish the monarchy unconstitutional and said it was against the people's wishes.

    "It's up to the people to decide whether to get rid of the monarchy," said Thapa.

    "Many still have faith in the monarchy and we will fight against the dictatorship of the parties -- we're ready to sacrifice our lives."

    A senior Maoist leader dismissed the protest as meaningless.

    "The relevance of the monarchy has come to an end. The king has no future now," said Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Maoist minister for information.

    "Such protests have no significance as the constitution has already been amended to guarantee the abolition of the monarchy," he said, adding "any move by the king to try to keep his crown would be counter-productive for him."

    Analysts said royalist forces were hoping to foil the elections and allow the king to remain in power.

    The demonstrations show the king still has a support base, noted Gunaraj Luitel, a commentator with Kantipur, a leading private media group.

    "The pro-royalists are now regrouping to try to save the institution of the monarchy."

    Source : AFP
    © FRANCE NEPAL info

    Other articles by reporter AFP

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