Nepal's King Cuts Nation Off From World
Feb 1, 3:28 PM EST
Nepal's King Cuts Nation Off From World
By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA
Associated Press Writer
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- King Gyanendra dismissed
Nepal's government Tuesday and declared a state of
emergency, closing off his Himalayan nation from the
rest of the world as telephone and Internet lines were
cut, flights diverted and civil liberties severely
Britain and India both expressed concern, saying the
king's actions undermined democracy.
This was the second time in three years the king has
taken control of the tiny South Asian constitutional
monarchy, a throwback to the era of absolute power
enjoyed by monarchs before King Birendra, Gyanendra's
elder brother, introduced democracy in 1990.
King Gyanendra denied his takeover was a coup,
although soldiers surrounded the houses of Prime
Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other government
The king also suspended several provisions of the
constitution, including freedom of the press, speech
and expression, peaceful assembly, the right to
privacy, and the right against preventive detention,
according to a statement from the Narayanhiti Palace.
"We will oppose this step," Deuba, who was not allowed
to leave his home, told reporters. "The move directly
violates the constitution and is against democracy."
Nepali Congress, the country's largest party, said the
king had "pushed the country toward further
complications" and called for a demonstration.
India, Nepal's southern neighbor and close ally, also
criticized the king.
"These developments constitute a serious setback to
the cause of democracy in Nepal and cannot but be a
cause of grave concern to India," India's foreign
ministry said. "The safety and welfare of the
political leaders must be ensured and political
parties must be allowed to exercise all the rights
enjoyed by them under the constitution."
India said the king had violated Nepal's constitution,
which enshrines a multiparty democracy alongside a
Britain expressed similar concerns.
"This action will increase the risk of instability in
Nepal, undermining the institutions of democracy and
constitutional monarchy in the country. We call for
the immediate restitution of multiparty democracy, and
appeal for calm and restraint on all sides during this
difficult time," said Foreign Office Minister Douglas
Armored vehicles with mounted machine guns patrolled
the streets of Katmandu, Nepal's capital, and phone
lines in the city had been cut. Many flights into the
city were canceled, although the airport remained
Long lines quickly formed at grocery stores and gas
stations, as worried residents stocked up on supplies.
"We are so confused. We don't know what is going on or
what will happen," said Narayan Thapa, a government
worker. "I am worried I can't reach my family on the
In an announcement on state-run television, the king
accused the government of failing to conduct
parliamentary elections and to restore peace in the
country beset by rebel violence.
"A new Cabinet will be formed under my leadership," he
said. "This will restore peace and effective democracy
in this country within the next three years."
Later, state-run television reported a state of
emergency had been declared.
"This is not the first time that the king has tried to
impose himself by force, depriving the Nepalese people
of their freedom of expression," international media
freedom group Reporters Sans Frontieres said. "The
international community has failed to respond to a
deteriorating human rights situation in the country.
It is now urgent that the U.N. reacts firmly."
The monarch, who commands the 78,000-member army, said
security forces would be given more power to maintain
law and order. But he insisted human rights would be
The king fired Deuba as prime minister in 2002,
sparking mass protests demanding the restoration of a
democratically elected government. He reinstated Deuba
last year with the task of holding elections by next
month and conducting peace talks with Maoist rebels.
Nepal has been in turmoil since Gyanendra, 55,
suddenly assumed the crown in 2001 after his brother,
Birendra, was gunned down in a palace massacre
apparently committed by Birendra's son, the crown
prince, who also died. In all, 10 members of the royal
family were killed.
Riots shook Katmandu after the killings. Soon after,
fighting intensified between government forces and the
rebels, who control large parts of Nepal's
The rebels have been trying since 1996 to overthrow
the government and establish a socialist state. More
than 10,500 people have died since the fighting began.
� 2005 The Associated Press.