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Maoists tell king to bow out 'gracefully'

A senior leader of Nepal's Maoists called on the country's embattled King Gyanendra to step down "gracefully."
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Kathmandu
UPDATED ON APR 16, 2008 12:38 PM IST

A senior leader of Nepal's Maoists, who are on track for victory in landmark elections, called on the country's embattled king on Wednesday to step down "gracefully."

"The best thing for the king would be to bow out gracefully to pave the way for a democratic republic," Baburam Bhattarai, the Maoists' second-in-command, told AFP.

The call came as the former rebels maintained a strong lead in the count from last Thursday's vote on the impoverished country's political future.

The Maoists so far look set to dominate a 601-seat assembly that will rewrite Nepal's constitution, and have said their first act will be to sack King Gyanendra and abolish his 240-year-old monarchy.

The senior Maoist official said there was no going back on plans to get rid of the monarchy, meaning that the king had little choice but to go.

"In the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly we will declare the country a republic, then we will notify the king to leave the palace," Bhattarai said in an interview.

"As an ordinary citizen, he will have to abide by the law."

The ultra-leftists launched a civil war in 1996 with the aim of toppling the monarchy and establishing a communist republic. The conflict left at least 13,000 people dead, and came to an end with a landmark 2006 peace deal.

Bhattarai said his party would continue to work with Nepal's mainstream parties in a new coalition government.

"We are confident we can work with other parties. There is no alternative as this was not a general election -- it was an election to make a new constitution," he said.

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