-  Tuesday 02 June 2020

UN Official Presses for Nepal to Call Elections, Meets Leaders

 -  Bloomberg

Jan 08 2008, Kathmandu - The United Nations pressed for early elections in Nepal as a senior official began a four-day visit to assess the Himalayan kingdom's peace process.

Angela Kane, the assistant secretary-general for political affairs, will meet with government officials in the capital, Kathmandu, and visit one of the seven main camps where rebel fighters are barracked under UN supervision.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala plans to announce a date for elections this week, a central goal of the November 2006 accord that ended a decade-long civil war in Nepal.

Under the agreement, the rebel Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which fought to overthrow the monarchy, ended its armed struggle and joined the interim government. Elections have been postponed twice by arguments between the main parties over whether to abolish the monarchy before or after the ballot.

Lawmakers agreed late last month to amend the interim constitution to declare Nepal a republic, subject to ratification by the first meeting of the newly elected National Assembly. The Election Commission says it needs 90 days to prepare for elections, meaning the ballot will probably be held in April.

The civil war killed more than 13,000 people and damaged the nation's tourism-dependent economy.

Autocratic Rule

Support for a republic grew when King Gyanendra dismissed the government in February 2005 for failing to end the conflict and ruled as an autocrat for 14 months.

Gyanendra was forced to restore parliament in April 2006 in the face of mass demonstrations and has since been stripped of much of his power. He is no longer head of the army and his income and assets are taxable. A resolution passed unanimously by lawmakers in May 2006 turned Nepal, once the world's only Hindu kingdom, into a secular state.

About 1,500 supporters of the king waved flags and chanted slogans in Kathmandu yesterday to protest plans to abolish the monarchy, the Associated Press reported.

``Save the nation! We love our king!'' the supporters chanted as they marched through the city, blocking traffic for hours, AP said. It was the first such public demonstration in support of Gyanendra since he was forced to restore democracy, the news agency said.

Located between India and China, Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, where about 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Source : Bloomberg

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