May 16, 2006

New protests in Nepal over delay in clipping king

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Hundreds of Nepalis took to the
streets of the capital on Tuesday, burning tyres, uprooting
pavement barriers and blocking roads as they protested against
a delay in plans to curtail the king's powers.

The demonstrations came a day after the country's new,
multi-party government deferred tabling a landmark resolution
in parliament to check King Gyanendra's powers, saying it
needed to expand cabinet and debate the move there first.

The government, formed last month after weeks of often
violent demonstrations against the king, urged calm and assured
people that the resolution would now be tabled on Thursday.

The protesters came in buses to various places around the
capital and used the vehicles to block roads, witnesses said.

They shouted slogans against the king and the political
parties, burned tyres on roads and uprooted metal barriers
separating pavements from roads. Four vehicles were also
damaged in the protests.

Dozens of protesters also gathered outside the secretariat
which houses parliament and the prime minister's office.

"Down with monarchy," "Gyanendra thief, leave the country,"
"Down with corrupt leaders," the demonstrators shouted.

"I don't think these leaders are capable of doing this,"
said Govinda Rayamajhi, one of the protesters, referring to the
special proclamation that needs to be approved by parliament.

"This protest is to put pressure on them. We have to
continue to fight to win our rights," he said.

Cutting the king's powers was a key demand of pro-democracy
protesters during weeks of demonstrations last month which led
to King Gyanendra reinstating parliament and handing the
administration to a multi-party government.

The proclamation is expected to wrest control of the army
from the king and give it to parliament.

The administration would no longer be known as "His
Majesty's Government" and the king's key advisory body, the Raj
Parishad or Privy Council, is likely to be abolished.

Besides, the draft aims to tax the king's income and
property and allow his actions to be challenged in court.

Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula urged calm.

"The government will present it (proclamation) on Thursday.
We are committed to presenting it to parliament. The delay was
just to complete some procedures which will be done today or
tomorrow," he told a news conference.

"All seven parties are unanimous about presenting that
proposal," he said referring to Nepal's main parties which led
the mass campaign against the king.