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Envoys in Nepal snub King’s invitation

Nepal's foreign ambassadors refused to be present at the controversial monarch’s 60th birthday celebrations, reports Anirban Roy.
Hindustan Times | By Anirban Roy, Kathmandu
UPDATED ON JUL 05, 2007 06:31 PM IST

Most of the foreign ambassadors to Nepal on Thursday decided to drop King Gyanendra from their list of diplomatic associations and refused to be present at the controversial monarch’s 60th birthday celebrations.

Though the Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, did not make his decision of abstaining from the birthday-bash official, Andrew Hall, the British ambassador has said that all the EU envoys have declined the invitation.

Similarly, the US ambassador James F. Moriarty has also reportedly informed the officials of Narayanhity Palace that it would not be possible for him to attend the celebrations.

The members of the royal family are organising the 3-day birthday celebration in a grand way. Queen Komal will host a cocktail dinner on Friday evening and the list of invitees includes ministers, envoys and other dignitaries.

Maoist leader and Nepal’s information minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara said none of his party members would attend the controversial King’s birthday celebrations. “No one from the eight-party ruling alliance will attend the parties this coming weekend,” said Ram Chandra Poudel, the minister for peace and reconstruction.

However, none of the political parties have issued any official directive to its members to refrain from attending the party. The gates of Narayanhity Palace would be opened to the public on Saturday morning with the expectation that people in large numbers would turn up to wish the King.

Crown prince Paras would host a tea party at the palace on Saturday, followed by another get-together on Sunday afternoon for the members of the local and international media.

The envoys and ministers decided to “boycott” the celebrations because of King Gyanendra’s forceful takeover of power on February 1, 2005. Gyanendra was forced to give up his authoritarian rule in April last year, following a 19-day pro-democracy protest.
Officials at Narayanhity Palace were tight-lipped over the decision of the envoys and ministers to boycott the celebrations. The King’s principal secretary, Pashupati Bhakta Maharjan (chk name) and press secretary Phaniraj Pathak were not available for comments.

During the last one year, the monarch has cut an unpopular figure in Nepal, and has been suspended from the posts of Head of State and supreme commander of the Army.

The first sitting of the Constituent Assembly would now decide the monarch’s political future. The Maoists are demanding that the King be declared as a commoner, and Nepal should take the shape of a republic.

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