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IMF pulls out representative

Sukhwinder Singh has been asked to stay in Bangkok till the situation improves.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2006 15:17 IST

The worsening security situation in Nepal has prompted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to pull out its representative from the country.

Sukhwinder Singh has been asked to stay in Bangkok till the situation improves, Nepal's central bank told the agency.

Although Singh is tentatively scheduled to return next week, NRB officials said if the current instability and violence continued, the return would be delayed.

The move comes on the heels of the US government decision to cancel the trip of a high-level Congressional delegation to Nepal, shut down its consular services and library and authorise non-essential staff to leave the kingdom.

Already reeling under a decade-old Maoist insurgency, Nepal was hit by escalating violence this month after the opposition parties called a nationwide shutdown from April 6 to force King Gyanendra to step down.

As the king, ignoring demands by the international community to reconcile with the parties, launched a crackdown on the protesters, parts of the capital have become virtual battlefields, with stone-throwing protesters fighting back gun-wielding security forces.

Former US president Jimmy Carter, who was also scheduled to visit Nepal next month to press for reconciliation and peace, has also reportedly put off his trip at the advice of the US embassy here.

Earlier this month demonstrators attacked a car belonging to the embassy, smashing its windows and windscreen.

The royalist government of Nepal, however, insists nothing is amiss.

The Royal Nepalese Army, growing increasingly unpopular, threw a lavish dinner party for two days last week to usher in the Nepali New Year while the king hosted an even more opulent dinner for the diplomatic community.

Nepal's representative to the UN, former foreign secretary Madhu Raman Acharya, told CNN from New York Monday that the situation in his country was normal and that the demonstrations were peaceful.

Even as Acharya spoke, the channel showed armed police in riot gear baton-charging protesters. So far, six people have been killed in the protests.