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Nepal Govt asks king to leave palace

world Updated: May 27, 2008 11:26 IST
Gopal Sharma

The Nepali government warned on Tuesday that it could use force to throw unpopular King Gyanendra out of the royal palace if he refuses to leave voluntarily after the 239-year-old monarchy is abolished.

A special assembly elected in April is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Wednesday and formally declare an end to the monarchy, a key part of a 2006 peace deal with Maoist former rebels that ended a decade-long civil war.

"The king must leave the palace immediately and move to the Nirmal Niwas," Peace and Reconstruction Minister Ram Chandra Poudel said, referring to Gyanendra's private home.

"If he does not leave the palace then the government might have to use force to vacate the palace," he said. "This will not be good for him."

There was no immediate comment from the palace.

Many Nepalis think that the king will quietly go after the assembly vote. Gyanendra has been living in the Narayanhity royal palace in the heart of Kathmandu since ascending the throne in 2001, but he has made no public statement over his plans.

The government has banned demonstrations around major royal sites and the assembly. But Maoists and other main political parties say they are going to take to the streets on Wednesday to celebrate the monarchy's end.

The government that includes the Maoists took over control of the royal palace after Gyanendra was forced to end his absolute rule following weeks of street protests in 2006.

Anti-monarchy Maoists emerged as the largest party in elections to the 601-member assembly in April.

Authorities posted more police outside the International Convention Centre, the venue of Wednesday's assembly meeting, after a pro-Hindu militant group set off two small bombs outside the building, officials said.

Monday's blasts did not cause any injuries but raised security concerns ahead of the historic meet.