Demonstration before EU on Nepal turmoil
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Demonstration before EU on Nepal turmoil

The demonstration before EU headquarters was held to mark the first anniversary since King Gyanendra's coup on Feb 1, 2005.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2006 11:56 IST

Several Europe-based Nepalese human rights and civil society groups held a demonstration outside the European Union headquarters here, demanding a radical solution to the political problems of Nepal.

The demonstration on Wednesday afternoon was held to mark the first anniversary since King Gyanendra's coup on February 1, 2005.

"The aim of this gathering is to draw the attention of the European Union and the European Parliament to express their solidarity in defending human rights, democracy in Nepal," Nepali human rights and democracy activist Arjun Karki told INEP agency.

One of the slogans at the demonstration was "Handover the entire political power to the people".

"We are calling for power to the people and monarchy to be replaced by a democratically-elected government," Karki said. He is also the president of the NGO Federation of Nepal.

Earlier in the day, a conference was convened by the European Human rights organisation "Euro Step" and SAAPE to discuss the EU's future role in Nepal.

Speakers at the conference said the upcoming municipal elections in Nepal on February 8 would be meaningless because the king had allegedly used force to suppress opposition rallies and arrested hundreds of human rights defenders and political activists.

"There is no point in pushing toward municipal or general elections in Nepal. First, there needs to be a democratic process," said Robert Shaw, human rights officer of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

Reflecting on last year's developments in Nepal, Gunther Bachler, special advisor for peace building in Nepal at the federal foreign affairs department of Switzerland, said the only positive development was the understanding between the Maoist rebels and the seven-party alliance.

"The ceasefire by the Maoists was also an indication to get back into the main stream. Even royalists are trying to join the middle of the political mainstream movement."

The king's intransigent stand had allegedly made prospects for resolution bleak, according to Bruno Bilek, counsellor responsible for Asia at the current Austrian EU Presidency.

He said the best solution for Nepal would be a multiparty democratic system and the onus would be upon the EU and the international community to put pressure on the monarchy.

Micheal Matthiessen, the personal representative for human rights of Javier Solana, the EU High Representative of Common Foreign and Security Policy, reinforced the EU's commitment to monitor the situation in Nepal.

"The EU has had long standing relations with Nepal since 1995," he said. However, he stressed that in light of the current events, the EU may have to evaluate its current policy. "In situations such as these we have had to use another kind of tool box in some countries," he added.

According to Karki, the EU's declarations had not affected the king's mindset but had instead humiliated his allies and supporters. He believed that the EU needed to take a tougher stance on the royalist government.

"The next three-four months are critical for Nepal," he said.

First Published: Feb 02, 2006 11:56 IST