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Return Nepal to democracy: US to Gyanendra

By Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC
April 21, 2006 13:42 IST
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In an unambiguous blunt warning to Nepal's King Gyanendra, the United States has told him to return the country to civilian rule and for him to go sit on this throne and back to being simply a ceremonial head.

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher, during an interaction with the media April 20, saying, "To be as specific as I can" in response to the latest US position on the deteriorating situation in the Himalayan kingdom, asserted, "It is time for the king to return political power to the parties so that they can appoint a prime minister and take over governance."

"It's time for the king to adopt a more ceremonial role and let the political process go forward," he said, and acknowledging that the US was 'in touch with other governments on Nepal, in particular the government of India', Boucher said, "We are making all efforts to try to ensure a peaceful restoration of democracy in Nepal."

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He said the US "...is prepared to help with the political parties, with training, organisation, whatever we can do to ensure that they can govern more effectively. We are helping and will continue to help with the things like the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Election Commission," and other agencies that are "very important elements in ensuring clean, effective governance."

Boucher also issued a stern warning to the Maoist rebels, saying, "It is time as well for the Maoists to adopt a real ceasefire, to end their violence and to participate solely in the political process."

He acknowledged that the US was "...very concerned that in the last few days the security forces have used -- we have to call excessive force, and this has resulted in quite a few deaths."

"So it's time that they respect the people and time for them to return to the role of guaranteeing the safety of the nation," Boucher added.

He said the untenable situation in Nepal "...has gone on long enough for all the parties. The king needs to make the first move," and he predicted that once he does so, "...the international community will also help Nepal get back on a solid footing."

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC