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Nepal bans rallies ahead of Parliament vote

A special resolution would also force the king to pay taxes for the first time.

india Updated: May 18, 2006 10:13 IST

Nepal's new government banned rallies around key areas in the capital on Thursday ahead of a Parliament vote to curtail King Gyanendra's powers after he ceded control to opposition politicians last month.

A notice on state-run radio said rallies and protests would not be allowed around the royal palace and the Singha Durbar, a walled complex which contains the parliament building, prime minister's office, ministries and other key government offices.

The declaration would remove Gyanendra's command over the 90,000-strong Royal Nepalese army and his right to make the final decision on major issues, and hand those powers to Parliament.

It would also force the king to pay taxes for the first time, remove his immunity from prosecution and let Parliament set the royal family's income from the government.

It follows a 14-month period in which the unpopular king held direct control of the government after dissolving parliament.

Earlier this week, a delay in voting on the proclamation sparked angry protests in the streets of the capital, Kathmandu.

Tires and government vehicles were set ablaze and traffic was blocked. Parliament Speaker Subash Nemwang said the declaration would be presented in parliament on Thursday by the prime minister, followed by discussion and voting.

With a majority of the legislators from the alliance of seven political parties that opposed Gyanendra's direct rule, the declaration was expected to pass.

The king is also not expected to oppose the vote. The proclamation was scheduled to be presented in parliament on Monday. However, differences within the Himalayan country's ruling alliance delayed the process.

The proclamation also proposes scrapping the Raj Parishad, the king's advisory council, which contains more than 100 of his supporters and was blamed for advising Gyanendra to seize absolute power last year.

Weeks of often violent street protests last month forced Gyanendra to give up direct control of the government, reinstate Parliament and return political authority to elected officials.

First Published: May 18, 2006 09:32 IST