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Nepalese celebrate dawn of republic

Nepal’s Constituent Assembly was all set on Wednesday night to declare the country a secular, federal democratic republic, bring to an end the 240-year-old institution of monarchy, reports Anirban Roy.See graphic

world Updated: May 28, 2008 22:52 IST
Anirban Roy

Nepal’s Constituent Assembly was all set on Wednesday night to declare the country a secular, federal democratic republic, and bring to an end the 240-year-old institution of monarchy in the Himalayan nation.

K.B. Gurung, the senior-most member of the assembly, who conducted proceedings as its interim speaker, was to declare Nepal a republic.

As of Wednesday night, King Gyanendra and the members of the royal family were to be declared commoners. The government has asked Gyanendra to vacate the Narayanhity palace within 15 days.

The parties have decided to cut down all privileges the king and the royal family used to enjoy. The royal family would also not get any form of privy-purse from the government. It has also decided to transform Narayanhity Palace into a national Museum.

The first sitting of the Constituent Assembly was delayed by several hours. As per the programme, the sitting was scheduled to be held at 11am. The delay was primarily because the leaders of the political parties could not decide on the rights and duties of the ceremonial President.

“We are sorry for not being able to hold the historic first-sitting of the Constituent Assembly as per the schedule. But, we had to discuss and iron out some of the important political issues,” United Left Front general-secretary C.P. Mainali said.

The parties also could not finalise the process of selection of the 26 members to be nominated to the assembly by the cabinet. “The process of nomination of the 26 members would be finalised very soon,” Prakash Sharan Mahat of the Nepali Congress said. “The rights of the President will be finalised soon,” Amrit Kumar Bohora, senior leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) said.

However, it has been decided that the President would be the head of state, and the custodian of the constitution. The President would also be the supreme commander of the army. Under the new republic, the post of a vice-president would also be created.

The cabinet also endorsed a 5-point proposal declaring Nepal a sovereign, secular, inclusive, federal democratic republic.

Political parties and various organisations took out colourful processions in different parts of Nepal. People were seen singing and dancing in the streets of Kathmandu.