Opposition rejects king's offer for talks | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Opposition rejects king's offer for talks

PTI | ByReuters, Kathmandu
May 11, 2004 12:44 PM IST

Two main opposition parties rejected a fresh offer from the King for talks aimed at ending the political crisis and weeks of protest.

Nepal's two main opposition parties rejected a fresh offer from King Gyanendra on Monday for talks aimed at ending a long running political crisis and weeks of protests.

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The parties, part of a five-member opposition bloc, rejected the offer saying all opposition groups should attend any talks to find a replacement for royalist Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa, who quit last week.

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"Two of us have received invitations to meet the king late on Monday separately. We have rejected that," said Madhav Kumar Nepal, chief of the Communist Unified Maxist-Leninist (UML) party.

"We just don't want to see the king alone. He must also invite other three parties together," he said. Officials said others would be invited later.

Gyanendra fired an elected government in 2002 and assumed executive powers. Opposition parties have demanded he restore democracy and set up a multi-party government and have pledged to continue daily protests in the capital until he agrees.

The opposition has called a nationwide general strike for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The crisis has further raised tensions in a country already struggling to contain a revolt by Maoist rebels, who have been fighting an eight-year campaign to end the constitutional monarchy and replace it with a communist republic.

The rebels are not aligned with any political party.

More than 9,000 people have died in the revolt, which as wrecked the aid and tourist dependent economy.

Suspected militants exploded two crude bombs and shot dead one person in Kathmandu on Monday.

Gyanendra had invited Girija Prasad Koirala, president of the centrist Nepali Congress party and Nepal of the UML for talks.

The two parties said the king, who had ignored them in the past, wanted to split the opposition alliance. Two small left-wing groups and a centrist party are also in the bloc.

Analysts and diplomats who have met Gyanendra say he dislikes the opposition parties because he feels they are corrupt and have failed to address acute poverty since multi-party democracy was set up in 1990.

Nepal has also come under pressure from foreign donors, which last week called on the government to restore democracy and press for peace talks with the rebels.

Several key donors said on Monday they would halt development projects in some remote areas from next week after threats from the rebels. Halting the projects, which include building roads, would affect thousands of poor villagers.

Aid agencies from Britain, Germany and the Netherlands said said the rebels had planted bombs in their offices in western Nepal and told the agencies to give them money.

"Support to these programmes will re-start when it is clear that staff can operate in a safe environment," the agencies said in a statement.

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