Nepal’s political parties pile pressure on king as he considers new PM
KATHMANDU: Political parties in Nepal on Tuesday announced further anti-monarchy protests, piling pressure on King Gyanendra as he considers who to appoint as the country’s new prime minister.
Achyut Sapkota, of the Nepal Communist Party-United Marxist and Leninist (NCP-UML), said their protests would continue until the king appointed their choice of prime minister and gave him executive power.
“We will continue our struggle to set the country’s constitution on the right track, so the people can retrieve the sovereign and executive rights from the king,” he told AFP.
The five main political parties have been holding street protests since last month in protest against the king’s sacking of the elected prime minister in October. At the same time he postponed parliamentary elections.
Gyanendra had appointed Lokendra Bahadur Chand, a staunch royalist, as prime minister, but he resigned on Friday saying he wanted to end the increasing strife in Nepal’s political life.
The king is currently considering who to appoint in his place and had set a 72-hour deadline, which ended Monday night, for the five political parties to name somebody.
They put forward the name of NCP-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal in a letter handed to the royal palace. The letter insisted the parties would hold new elections if Nepal were selected.
“The five party leaders are not merely interested in getting our man appointed to succeed Lokendra Bahadur Chand. Our main interest is to re-establish the people’s sovereign and executive rights guaranteed under the constitution,” it said.
But, adding to the confusion, other political parties have also put forward names for the post of prime minister, including leader of the Nepali Congress Democratic, Sher Bahadur Deuba, National Democratic Party (NDP) leader Surya Bahadur Thapa and the leader of the Green Party-Nepal, Kuber Sharma.
“King Gyanendra is hectically working to select a new prime minister from among the NCP-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, the NDP leader Surya Bahadur Thapa as well as the Speaker Tara Nath Ranabhat,” a cabinet source said.
Chand did not find favour with the political parties, but his government reached a ceasefire on January 29 with Maoist rebels, whose seven-year insurgency to topple the constitutional monarchy has left more than 7,800 people dead.
The government and the rebels have so far held two rounds of peace talks.
Sources said Nepal had already discussed with Maoist leaders the implications on the peace process if he became prime minister. The Maoists said a change of government was not likely to affect the talks, as they were still set on their demands for an all-party government and the holding of a round-table conference to help draft a new constitution, the sources said.
In the latest protest, about 6,000 activists from the five agitating political parties took to the streets Monday to denounce Gyanendra. —AFP