Tue, May 09, 2006 - Page 5 News List

New Nepali regime moves to dismantle King's government


Nepal's new government moved ahead yesterday with dismantling remnants of King Gyanendra's unpopular authoritarian rule, amid growing calls that his senior officials be held accountable for their role in suppressing dissent.

"We strongly urge the government to keep the suspected [officials] in suspension," wrote the Kathmandu Post in an editorial yesterday that echoed calls from other newspapers.

Responding to the growing sentiment, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's new Cabinet decided on Sunday to cancel all political appointments made during the king's 14-month direct rule.

The king yielded power on April 24 and restored democracy in the face of a violent, countrywide campaign against him.

A judicial commission is investigating human-rights abuses allegedly carried out by the military and senior officials during the king's crackdown on a movement to oust him from power that resulted in the deaths of at least 19 people.

But more action was being sought.

"The government has to do much more to reverse the regressive decisions of the past and remove existing obstructions," the Himalayan Times newspaper said in an editorial yesterday, adding that there should also be a review of how judges responded to the political crisis.

Home Minister Krishna Sitaula also announced on Sunday that Nepal's ambassadors to the US, India, Japan, Britain, France and other countries were being recalled.

The government has said it will dismantle legislation, appointments, decrees and other actions taken after the king grabbed power in February last year. It earlier scrapped municipal elections that were held three months ago.

Even state-run the Rising Nepal, which had earlier slammed anti-king protesters, joined the chorus.

An editorial in the paper cited "numerous atrocities" and said those responsible should "not be allowed to go unpunished."

Nepal's parliament also has committed to elections for a constituent assembly that will rewrite the Constitution, a key demand of Maoist rebels who joined forces with a seven-party alliance to play a key role in the three weeks of often-bloody demonstrations.

But while the rebels appear to be headed for a role in the political mainstream and have agreed to hold peace talks with the government, their impatience for quick action is mirroring the general public's sentiments.

A news report on Sunday quoted the rebels' leader, Prachanda, as saying an interim constitution should be enacted immediately, even before the special assembly is elected.

"There should be an interim constitution and an interim government," Prachanda was quoted as saying by Nepal magazine.

"We have not made any official decision on the issue but we are in agreement that it would be fine just to remove some clauses from the existing constitution," said Gopal Man Singh, minister for physical planning and works.

The rebels have made it clear they have differences with the new government despite their partnership in bringing down the royal regime.

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