Mon, Mar 14, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Nepalese public fed up with both rebels and king


In insurgency-wracked Nepal, support is fast waning for both the king and the Maoist rebels, as the fate of democracy in the Himalayan nation hangs in limbo.

When King Gyanendra, a constitutional monarch, seized power and declared a state of emergency on Feb. 1, many Nepalese thought the move would salvage their country from political chaos and end a festering Maoist rebellion that has claimed more than 10,500 lives. But more than a month after the royal takeover, the king is losing ground. Even royalist politicians want the monarch to retreat.

Support for the communist rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong (毛澤東), has not grown either. Die-hard communists, who once sympathized with them, are increasingly becoming wary of the rebels.

"Violence gets you nowhere. If the Maoists were to succeed they would have done it by now," said Mohan Chandra Adhikari, once hailed as Nepal's Nelson Mandela. Adhikari was jailed for 17 years after trying to wage an armed rebellion against the monarchy in the 1970s and a royal pardon saved him from being hanged.

The rebels, Adhikari said, would never win their war, nor would they ever lose it to the king.

"Though they call themselves Maoists, they have long deviated from Mao's ideals and even techniques," Adhikari said, pointing to the rebels' hit-and-run guerrilla warfare, which failed communist insurgents in many Latin American countries. "It only makes more and more people turn against you."

The Maoists have killed more civilians than soldiers. People in rural Nepal, where the rebels have a stronghold, are increasingly turning against them. Earlier this month, angry villagers in the Kapilvastu district of southern Nepal lynched nearly two dozen rebels.

Growing resentment against the Maoists, however, has not pushed people to the king's side. On the contrary, the monarch's own followers have disapproved of his actions last month.

This past week, Pashupati Shamsher Rana, the chief of Nepal's main pro-monarchy party, said he believed in "a national consensus on tackling the Maoist problem" and that the power grab by Gyanendra was "a setback to the process of building such a consensus."

Rana has called for lifting curbs on political parties, release of all detainees, and the restoration of civil liberties abrogated under emergency rule. "The political parties and fundamental rights are the pillars of constitutional monarchy," he said.

Police have detained more than 500 political workers, rights activists and journalists and put several top politicians under house arrest in a bid to prevent political mobilization against the emergency. The Nepalese media have been censored from publishing or broadcasting any criticism of the monarchy and political protests have been banned.

Officials in the royal government say the measures have helped improve the security situation in the country.

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