King asks parties to suggest new PM | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

King asks parties to suggest new PM

PTI | ByReuters, Kathmandu
May 31, 2004 10:21 AM IST

Nepal's King facing a Maoist revolt has asked national parties to suggest a replacement for Surya Bahadur Thapa who stepped down three weeks ago.

Nepal's King Gyanendra, facing a bloody Maoist revolt and a political crisis, asked national parties to suggest a replacement for the royalist prime minister who resigned early in May amid street protests.

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Nepal has been effectively without a government since Surya Bahadur Thapa stepped down three weeks ago.

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"The individual must have a clean image, be able to garner the support of all quarters ...and initiate elections to the House of Representatives (within mid-April 2005) by maintaining peace and security," Gyanendra's palace said in a statement late on Sunday.

The palace said parties must make their recommendation by 5 PM (1115 GMT) on Monday.

The call from the king came hours after Maoist rebels, who want to topple the Hindu monarchy and set up a communist state, set off a powerful bomb in a bus in Kathmandu killing one person and wounding 21 others.

Gyanendra plunged the impoverished nation into turmoil in 2002 when he fired an elected prime minister and indefinitely postponed elections to parliament dissolved early that year.

He has changed two royalist prime ministers since then but has failed to make peace with the rebels, which is key to fresh parliamentary elections.

"The king's move could only be a ploy to split the opposition," said Narayan Man Bijukuchhe, a member of the five-party alliance that has been organising daily, often violent, street protests to press Gyanendra to appoint a multi-party government.

The king, who considers the parties corrupt and inept, has ignored the demand.

Violence has surged since the Maoists walked out of peace talks in last August amid a dispute over the future of monarchy. The revolt has cost more than 9,500 lives since 1996.

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