Nepal Maoists reject PM’s proposal of child king

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS

Kathmandu : Nepal's Maoists Monday rejected Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's bid to save the monarchy by installing King Gyanendra's five-year-old grandson, saying their aim was to abolish the institution in all forms and that they regarded the palace as the fountainhead of the nation's woes.

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Acting spokesperson of the Maoist party, Prashant, told IANS that rebel supremo Prachanda had ruled out accepting the monarchy in any form – be it a ceremonial king without any actual power or a minor king.

"There is no option to a federal republic," the Maoist official said. "We staged a 10-year people's war and then took part in the pro-democracy movement against King Gyanendra's regime with the sole objective of holding a constituent assembly election so that people can decide whether to keep monarchy or axe it. It is also the basis of our agreement with the parties.

"The verdict of the people is against monarchy. Those who support monarchy will find themselves wiped out."

The Maoist reaction came a day after Koirala told a group of visiting Pakistani journalists that he had asked King Gyanendra, who became increasingly unpopular after trying to seize power with the army's help, to abdicate.

Koirala said he had advised both the king and his son, Crown Prince Paras, perhaps the most unpopular member of the royal family, to abdicate in favour of Paras' five-year-old son Hridayandra so that people would get over their anger at the royal regime and accept a child king who had done nothing wrong.

It was the second time the octogenarian PM, regarded as a staunch supporter of monarchy despite leading the uprising against King Gyanendra last year, advocated that the king and his son give up their claim to the throne in order to save it from abolition.

The earlier statement, made in his hometown Biratnagar in eastern Nepal, had created a furore, with the Maoists strongly opposing it.

"Koirala is expressing his personal opinion," Prashant said. "It does not even reflect the stand of his Nepali Congress whose youth leaders want monarchy to be abolished. His personal feeling about monarchy has contributed to the instability prevailing in Nepal, and we are asking the Nepali Congress to make its official position clear."

The Maoist official made it clear that his party would not accept any kind of king.

"We want an end to feudalism and the restructuring of the state so that all groups, communities and sexes get equal rights," he said. "This can never happen as long as any form of monarchy exists.

"So we want not just an end to Gyanendra and Paras but an end to the entire palace."