Wed, Feb 16, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Pressure mounts against Nepalese king's power grab

ISOLATION Diplomats from several countries have been recalled to protest the king's seizure of power, and called on him to restore democracy


Nepal came under international pressure Monday after the US, EU and India recalled their ambassadors from the Himalayan outpost to protest King Gyanendra's seizure of absolute power.

The US State Department indicated of possible international action if the king refused to heed calls to restore fundamental rights.

"The recall of our ambassador, along with the ambassadors of the United Kingdom, India and France, who are also leaving Kathmandu today, I think is an indication of the deep concern in the international community about the recent developments in Nepal," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters.

"These are widely shared among nations of the international community," he said.

In Paris, French foreign ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous said: "In light of recent events in Nepal, we have decided -- along with our European partners -- to recall EU ambassadors living in Kathmandu for consultations."

On Feb. 1, Nepal's King Gya-nendra sacked the government, appointed a pro-royalist Cabinet headed by himself and declared a state of emergency in the Himalayan kingdom.

Boucher said the US had "made clear the point" that the king needed to restore and protect civil and human rights.

Gyanendra should also release those detained under the state of emergency and move quickly toward restoration of civil liberties and multi-party, democratic institutions, he added.

"We will consult with our ambassador and others will consult with their ambassadors about how best to achieve those goals, how we can support those goals," Boucher said.

"And we'll be sending our ambassador back after a [week] in order to convey that message even more clearly," he said.

Whatever steps taken by the international community would be aimed at "supporting the Nepalese people's quest for democracy, peace, security and development," he added.

India's envoy to Nepal, Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, who returned to New Delhi on Monday, had called on the foreign minister Natwar Singh, and briefed him on the latest developments in the restive Himalayan kingdom and his talks with King Gyandendra last week.

Analysts say that among the first actions to be taken if the Nepalese king refused to budge would be freezing military aid to the impoverished nation fighting an uphill battle to suppress a Maoist insurgency, which has claimed more than 11,000 lives so far.

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