Nepal to probe ex-royals’ assets at home, abroad

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : Nepal’s new government Thursday tabled its policies and programmes in parliament, pledging to investigate the properties and assets owned by the former royal family.

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As the Maoist siege of the house ended after two months, their arch enemy President Ram Baran Yadav tabled the new policies and programme of the communist-led government that gave priority to ferreting out the properties of its former King Gyanendra and his family members in Nepal and abroad and bring them under state control.

However, the new policies made no mention of the announcement by the preceding Maoist government that a new investigation would begin into the massacre of King Birendra and nine members of his family in the tightly guarded royal palace eight years ago, indicating that the new government was not ready to grapple with the controversial issue.

A high-level commission formed after the palace massacre in 2001 had indicted Birendra’s son and the then crown prince Dipendra.

It was said that the prince, under a lethal influence of drugs and drinks, shot his parents for opposing his marriage to the girl of his choice and others who tried to intervene.

At the end, the prince shot himself, the commission report said.

However, the investigation could not explain several things, like the absence of any firearm near the prince’s body, and was discounted by many Nepalis.

The current prime minister, who had rejected an offer to be on the panel of investigators in 2001, decided to bury the issue, instead promising to draft a new constitution in time, strengthen law and order and improve the economic outlook.

After lawmakers discuss the policies and programme, Finance Minister Surendra Pandey would table the new budget Monday.

The Maoists, sitting in opposition and blaming the president for the fall of their eight-month-old government, said they would allow him to table the policies and programme in the house under protest.

Only two Maoist lawmakers attended the session while others stayed away, including party chief and former premier Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda.

The Maoists, the biggest party in the 601-member house, holding nearly 40 percent seats, have warned they would give the new government a month to resolve their row with the president or begin a fresh siege of the house.

They want the government to admit that the president acted unconstitutionally when he reinstated the chief of the army, Gen. Rookmangud Katawal, whom they had sacked two months ago.