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Nepal King appeals for reconciliation

This happened before the opposition parties planned to hold mass rally to protest his direct rule over Nepal.

india Updated: Feb 19, 2006 11:40 IST

Nepal's King Gyanendra appealed to opposition political parties for reconciliation on Sunday.

This happened hours before they planned to hold a mass rally to protest his direct rule over this Himalayan kingdom.

The King said he "calls on all willing political parties to come forth to fully activate, at the earliest, the stalled democratic process in the greater interest of the nation."

"Let us listen to others, put across our views, do away with discord and enhance mutual understanding. Let us consolidate peace and democracy," he said in a message to the nation on Sunday.

The appeal came in the King's traditional address to the nation on Democracy Day, which marks the anniversary of a popular movement in 1990.

The opposition parties rejected the King's appeal, saying it was meaningless.

They vowed to continue protests until the King complies to their demand of restoring democracy.

"It is an artificial appeal that does not mean anything for us. If he is really serious about resolving the problems then he should have directly approached us and not made such a vague appeal," said Khadga Prasad Oli, deputy leader of the Communist Party of Nepal.

Mahesh Acharya of the Nepali Congress party said the King appeared to show that he has retreated a little but in reality he is still determined to stick to his road map of holding on to power.

"There is no need to be excited or encouraged by the appeal," Acharya said.

The King's appeal also came hours before thousands of people were expected to take part in a major rally in the Nepalese capital on Sunday to pressure him to relinquish absolute power he seized more than a year ago.

Organisers were expecting more than 10,000 people to attend the rally.

King Gyanendra seized power in February last year, saying it would help quell a communist insurgency and clean up corruption in the government.

But fighting between the Maoist rebels and security forces has since escalated and the King is facing growing criticism both at home and abroad.

The rebels have announced an indefinite nationwide strike from April 3 which would be preceded by a series of blockades on the highways leading to Kathmandu, and other main cities and towns starting March 14.

A statement issued on Saturday by rebel leaders Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai said schools and businesses will be forced to close, and transportation disrupted during the strike.

"The (royal) regime is counting its final days," the rebel statement said.

"Time has come to make the final strike on the regime that has been isolated and defamed."

First Published: Feb 19, 2006 09:44 IST