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Nepal: Opposition to continue protests against King

By Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu
April 23, 2006 15:58 IST
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Nepal's seven-party alliance, which is spearheading an agitation against King Gyanendra, pledged on Sunday to keep up pressure on him to end his rule. Meanwhile, thousands of pro-democracy protesters held demonstrations, defying a day-time curfew which was imposed for the fifth consecutive day.

The opposition alliance stuck to its demand of reinstatement of the Parliament and holding of Constituent Assembly elections as per its roadmap to restore full democracy in the kingdom. It has already rejected the King's offer to name a Prime Minister and form the government.

The monarch's announcement on Friday that he was returning executive power to people was not enough, said the opposition. "Our movement (against the King's rule) will continue but it will remain peaceful and non-violent," said Nepali Congress general secretary Ramchandra Poudel.

"The people's aspirations are very high and the King's proclamation has failed to address the basic agenda and roadmap set out by the parties, so in this situation we cannot go to the government," Nepal Communist Party-UML senior politburo member Jhalanath Khanal warned that the parties may opt for reinstating a Parliament on their own and form a parallel government, if the King did not listen to their demands.

The peaceful movement of the alliance would continue till desired goal is achieved, he said in an interaction programme.

Nepali Congress (Democratic) acting president Gopal Man Shrestha hoped that the international community, including India, would understand the aspiration of Nepalese people and 'exert enough pressure on the King to accept our road map'.

Anti-King protest rallies continued in Kathmandu and several other districts of Nepal on the 18th day of the general strike called by the opposition. In several parts of Kathamndu, people came to the streets defying the curfew, which was re-imposed on Sunday from 9 am for 11 hours, despite heavy deployment of security personnel.

Demonstrations were also held in Charikot, Bara, Nuwakot, Pokhara and other places across Nepal. In Nuwakot, over a dozen people were badly beaten up by the security forces as thousands of people staged anti-King demonstrations, party sources claimed.

People are facing hardship with the absence of many essential goods from the market and the record hike in consumer items' prices due to the strike which began on April 6.

Meanwhile, 30 different human rights groups and civil society organisations in a joint statement sought an announcement of nationwide ceasefire, release of all political detainees, treatment of wounded uring the agitation, forming of a national consensus government with the involvement of the seven-party alliance and the Maoists, and declaration of a constituent assembly.

The groups included Forum for Protection of Human Rights, Human Rights Organisation of Nepal, Human Rights and Peace Society and Human Rights and Media Campaign. The Federation of Nepalese Journalists also called on the people to participate in the ongoing agitation until democracy and press freedom are restored fully and asked the security forces not to suppress the peaceful protests.

Complete coverage: The Nepal crisis

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Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu