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Days of monarchy numbered: Scribe

King Gyanendra should agree to be a 'Constitutional' monarch, editor of a Nepal daily tells Meenakshi Iyer.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2006 17:41 IST

With strikes, clashes and curfew being the order of the day in Kathmandu, the common man has lost faith in all the political forces of the kingdom, says editor of a leading weekly in Nepal.

"The common men and women are fed up of the violence, strikes and disruptions. They don't trust any of the political forces, be it King, parties or Maoists," Kunda Dixit, Chief Editor of Nepali Times tells HindustanTimes.com.

Dixit's comments comes a day after 29 journalists were arrested for demanding an end to a crackdown on the media by the government.

More than 100 other journalists have been arrested since the latest wave of protests against King Gyanendra began on April 5. However, all have been released.

"They (the journalists) could be in for a while longer, in the past they have been kept for a month, said Dixit, whose brother Kanak Mani Dixit, editor of HimalSouth Asia Magazine, is among the 29 detained scribes.

Nepal riot police arrest agitating journalists

King Gyanendra seized control over the government 14 months ago, saying he needed to root out political corruption and put an end to Maoist mania that has left thousands dead in the past decade.

The royal government has since imposed severe restrictions on journalists and introduced new media laws.

Criticism of the King, the royal government and security forces has since been banned.

"The attempts to gag the press is part of a wider crackdown on democracy since the King took over last February. If he restores democracy, press freedom will be automatically safeguarded," Dixit explains.

The King is all set to announce election dates on April 14 when the kingdom celebrates its New Year. Polls may take place between February and March 2007.

"If he (Gyanendra) cannot get the political parties to join the elections, it will be a sham. The parties won't join unless the King first restores democracy," says Dixit.

Analysts dubbed the last month's municipal polls in Nepal as a "sham" as 95 per cent of the parties did not take part in the exercise.

"For his own sake and the sake of his dynasty, the King should agree to be a Constitutional monarch. If he doesn't, then I think the days of monarchy in Nepal are numbered," says Dixit, who strongly believes that democracy will be restored in Nepal.

Nepal's seven major political parties have carried out daily protests and clashes with the security forces throughout the country to pressurise King to restore democracy.

Dixit, who is a graduate from Columbia University, has worked with BBC at UN headquarters in New York. He was also the Asia-Pacific director of Inter Press Service.