Wednesday, October 3, 2007

PM summons House to end political crisis

Published: Wednesday, 3 October, 2007, 02:46 AM Doha Time

KATHMANDU: Instead of the election in November, Nepal’s King Gyanendra’s fate could be sealed by next week with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala yesterday deciding to summon a special session of parliament.
The decision was made after Koirala met Speaker Subhash Chandra Nembang to discuss a way to resolve the continuing political deadlock and the spectre of fresh violence with a Maoist ultimatum expiring on Friday.
The meeting took place after the Maoists, who quit the government last month, warned Koirala on Sunday that they would start new protests to disrupt the November election if he failed to agree to their demands about the polls.
The guerrillas, who had waged an uprising since 1996 to overthrow the monarchy, now want the government to abolish the crown immediately without waiting for the election.
They also want the government to have a fully proportional representation system for the November 22 election instead of a mixed system.With Koirala refusing to heed either demand, the rebels last week began a double-pronged attack, taking their fight to parliament.
On Friday, they gathered the support of two more fringe communist parties and asked the premier to call a special session of parliament.Nepal’s new constitution has a provision that allows parliament to decide the king’s fate.
If the house feels that King Gyanendra is trying to sabotage the November election or is involved in any other anti-national activity, it can put the 238-year institution of monarchy to vote.
Should two-thirds of the MPs agree to scrap the crown, the king would become a commoner even before the general election.Koirala has been resisting the Maoist proposal to let the house decide the royal family’s future on the ground that it would not be acceptable to the international community, who want the decision to be left to the people and the November election.
After the Maoists and their allies called for a special session of the house in a bid to force his hand, Koirala, according to the constitution, has to do their bidding within 15 days, by October 13.
However, the prime minister and the speaker could not immediately agree on the date when the session would be convened since several MPs are currently out of the capital, touring their constituencies for the election.Koirala’s move comes a day after he took umbrage at the king attending a religious festival and ordering that the number of security guards for the monarch be reduced by half.
With the new constitution taking away all the king’s public roles and giving them to the prime minister, Koirala on Sunday attended a traditional Hindu festival that for 250 years had been attended by Nepal’s kings.
Though King Gyanendra let Koirala take his place, he however made a low-key visit to the site to receive the blessings of Living Goddess Kumari, which is believed to be essential for the safety of the royal family.
However, Koirala is regarding the visit as a challenge to his own authority and in a fit of anger asked army chief Gen Rukmangud Katuwal to halve the number of soldiers deployed in the Narayanhity palace. – IANS

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