Home International Four years after ouster, Nepal’s deposed king having last laugh

Four years after ouster, Nepal’s deposed king having last laugh

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu: Four years after he was forced to end his army-propped regime and endure the start of a retributive process to abolish monarchy, Nepal’s deposed king Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah may have had the last laugh with the peace process in tatters and political parties facing the same public wrath he had.

On April 24, 2006, the last king of Nepal, who had seized power through a bloodless coup the previous year, was compelled to restore parliament after 19 days of a nationwide peaceful pro-democracy movement that brought the country to a halt despite the use of force by the royal regime.

Since then, Nepal, transformed into a federal, secular republic, had been celebrating April 24 as “Democracy Day”, awaiting another epoch-making event on May 28 this year when a new constitution, written by the people themselves for the first time, was to have been unveiled.

Though celebrations were still held dutifully Saturday, there was little heart or hope in them after Nepal’s ruling parties this week admitted it was impossible to promulgate the new constitution by next month.

“The parties, with their old mindsets, have failed to meet people’s aspirations,” accused human rights activist Devendra Raj Pandey, who was among the tens of thousands of civil society members who took part in the anti-king protests four years ago.

Four years later, the spectre of uncertainty and fear of violence stalks Nepal anew with its former Maoist guerrillas on the verge of new anti-government protests.

Clashes between the Maoists and the ruling parties have begun. From Sunday, the former rebels have called an indefinite closure of all public schools in the country.

Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who led a 10-year war for the abolition of monarchy, has also warned of an indefinite general strike from May 2.

On May 1, the Maoists plan to stage a show of might in the capital to pressure Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal into resigning.

If Nepal resists the “final push”, as he has been for almost a year, Prachanda has warned of graver consequences, including an indefinite shutdown.

There are reports of the former guerrillas giving paramilitary training to new recruits, leading to fears of an attempted coup by them after May 28.

The government has put the army and other security agencies on high alert since Thursday, bracing for clashes.

The animosity between the ruling parties and Maoists was fanned further Friday when the former made appointments to three key constitutional posts without the approval of the ex-rebels and in violation of the peace pact of 2006 that had pledged to do so only after consensus.

A similar feud between the parties and the Maoists in the past had emboldened Gyanendra to grab power.

Now with a re-enactment of the past and a growing public outcry against both, die-hard royalists are watching the confrontation with glee from the sidelines and pushing a demand for the restoration of monarchy.