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King expresses support for Nepal's peace process

This is King Gyanendra's first public comment since April when he was forced to give up authoritarian rule and reinstate Parliament.

india Updated: Oct 02, 2006 11:49 IST

Nepal's King Gyanendra on Monday expressed support for his Himalayan nation's peace process aimed at ending a decade-old insurgency by communist rebels that has claimed thousands of lives.

It was his first public comment since April when he was forced to give up authoritarian rule, reinstate Parliament and appoint a top politician as the prime minister, following weeks of pro-democracy protests.

"The realization of the efforts at instilling a sense of peace and security among the people by ensuring the success of the ongoing peace process was the need of the nation at this hour and also what the people aspired for," the king said in a holiday message.

Monday was the main day of celebration in Nepal's two-week Dasain festival, when people visit elder members of their family to get their blessings.

Thousands of people also traditionally line up outside the palace to get blessed by the king.

"May (Hindu goddess) Nava Durga Bhawani inspire us all to move ahead on the strength of national unity and reconciliation, at this difficult juncture in our history," the king said in the message.

Since the king was forced to give up powers and his control over the army, he has been reduced to a figurehead and his future role is currently under debate.

The Maoist rebels and the government declared a cease-fire in April and began peace talks, which have progressed slowly mainly because of difference over weapons held by the rebels.

The government wants the rebels to give up their arms before they join an interim government, but the rebels have so far refused.

The rebels and government last week decided to resume the stalled peace talks. A meeting between the prime minister, political leaders and top rebel leaders is planned for October 8.

First Published: Oct 02, 2006 11:49 IST