Opposition fails to make headway

PTI | ByBimaj Gurubacharya (Associated Press), Kathmandu
May 20, 2004 02:56 PM IST

Gyanendra and opposition parties failed to make any progress in resolving the political crisis gripping Nepal during talks.

Nepal's King Gyanendra and opposition parties failed to make any progress in resolving the political crisis gripping this Himalayan kingdom during talks on Wednesday, party leaders said.

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The leaders of Nepal's five biggest political parties met the monarch at his jungle resort just outside of the capital, Katmandu, on Wednesday night. The meeting was the first between the two sides since the opposition last month stepped up its campaign for the restoration of democracy with massive street protests. "We told the king that the constitution has to be revived and the king needs to publicly announce that he has given up executive powers," Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala told reporters after the meeting.

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Koirala said the party leaders also demanded that parliament, which the king dissolved two years ago, needs to be resurrected. "Reinstating parliament is the solution out of the political crisis," Koirala said.

The leaders insisted that a new government and prime minister be from their ranks. Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa resigned earlier this month amid massive protests demanding his ouster, and the parties fear the king might again appoint a monarchist premier. The king, however, did not respond to the demands, Koirala said. There was no indication of another meeting between the two sides. Nepal has been gripped by political turmoil since Gyanendra sacked Parliament in 2002 and fired then-Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, accusing him of incompetence and of failing to end a communist insurgency.

Critics accused the king of overstepping his bounds as a constitutional monarch.

The crisis intensified last month when tens of thousands of people defied a ban on protests by taking to the streets to demand that Gyanendra restore democracy.

Some of the demonstrations turned violent and thousands of people were arrested.

Koirala said the protests would continue until the parties achieve their goals.

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