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Nepal moves to end Protests


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Nepal king moves to end protests

King's address

Nepal's King Gyanendra has called on opposition parties to put forward their candidate for prime minister, after days of protests against him.

In a televised address, he said he would return power to the people, but gave no date for elections to be held.

The opposition is expected to meet on Saturday to discuss the situation but the initial reaction has been negative.

The king sacked the government and assumed direct power in 2005, saying he needed to tackle the Maoist insurgency.

His apparent climb-down came on the 16th day of protests against his direct rule.

Harmony and understanding must be preserved in the interest of the nation and people

King Gyanendra

King's address - full text

Has king acted too late?

Looking tense during his address on Friday, the beleaguered monarch said the government would revert to being in accordance with the constitution of 1990.

That was drawn up when the monarchy became constitutional and political parties were legalised, but was partially suspended when the king took direct power last year.

"Executive power of the kingdom of Nepal, which was in our safekeeping, shall from this day be returned to the people," King Gyanendra said.

He called on the seven-party opposition alliance to recommend a name for the post of prime minister as soon as possible.

Death of a protester

Nepalis tell their story

Until a new prime minister was appointed, the present government would continue to run the country, he said.

The alliance is expected to meet on Saturday but the BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says the initial response has been negative.

Spokesmen for three of the parties have said the king's offer does not go far enough.

The alliance wants a constituent assembly to determine the role of the king.

Leader of Nepali Congress (Democratic) Minendra Rijal said: "There is no mention about it in the king's announcement."

He said it appeared the king still wanted to be "in the driving seat".

Narayan Man Bijukchhe, chairman of Nepal Workers and Peasants' Party, said: "We did not conduct this movement to recommend the name of the prime minister to the king."

'Open the path'

The reaction on the streets was more forceful.

Nepal has seen more than two weeks of anti-monarchy protests

Protester Grihendra Shrestha said: "We have won the battle, but we still must win the war."

"I want full democracy, all the power with the people," said Lekha Nath Bhatta.

But the Indian external affairs ministry released a statement welcoming the intended transfer of power.

"This action by the king... should now pave the way for the restoration of political stability and economic recovery," it said.

India holds considerable influence over its neighbour and this week sent an envoy to push Delhi's stance that democracy should be restored.

The EU presidency, currently held by Austria, also welcomed the move, saying it hoped it would "open the path to a peaceful process in Nepal".


It is definitely a step forward to reconciliation

K L Maharjan, Hiroshima

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Tens of thousands of people had returned to the streets in Nepal's capital for a second day of mass protests on Friday, despite a shoot-on-sight curfew.

The renewed curfew began at 0900 (0315 GMT). It was due to be lifted at 2000 (1415 GMT), but has been extended for a further four hours.

On Thursday, three people died in one area of Kathmandu when police opened fire on the crowds. Eyewitnesses said the officers had fired indiscriminately and many other protesters had been seriously injured.

Another person died on Friday in the town of Gulariya, some 500km (300 miles) south-west of Kathmandu, after being injured in protests a day earlier, reports say.

At least 14 demonstrators have now died around the country in the past two weeks.


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