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King imposes curfew to thwart anti-royal protests

Opposition parties with the support of Maoist rebels have called for a mass protest against King Gyanendra's absolute rule.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2006 08:52 IST

Nepal's government has imposed a daytime curfew and cut mobile telephone lines in an effort to thwart anti-royal protests called for Saturday, state media said.

Opposition parties with the support of Maoist rebels have called for a mass protest in the capital Kathmandu against King Gyanendra's absolute rule but a government crackdown has seen hundreds of activists arrested.

The international community has denounced the crackdown, with the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, India and Japan all calling for an end to the arrests and the release of those detained.

This week, the royal government imposed a night-time curfew, arrested political leaders, banned protests and arrested hundreds for defying the ban.

Home Minister Kamal Thapa said on Friday that 751 people had been arrested since Monday, and that the government was prepared to tackle the protests by imposing curfews or declaring a state of emergency.

"The government has proper security arrangements in place," Thapa told journalists.

Sidelined opposition parties have called for a mass protest on Saturday and have the support of the Maoists who formed a loose alliance with political leaders last November to restore democracy in the Himalayan kingdom.

King Gyanendra took over in February 2005, saying the politicians had failed to tackle a Maoist insurgency which has raged since 1996 and left around 12,500 people dead.

Saturday marks the 16th anniversary of Nepal's "people's movement day".

On April 8, 1990, late King Birendra lifted a ban on political parties which eventually led the following year to the formation of the first elected government in nearly 50 years.

First Published: Apr 08, 2006 08:52 IST