May 17, 2006

Nepal parliament set to curtail king’s powers

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal's parliament was set to pass a
special resolution on Thursday, a top minister said , in a move
aimed at curtailing the king's powers and wresting control of
the army from the monarch.

Cutting the king's powers was a key demand of last month's
pro-democracy protests which led to King Gyanendra reinstating
parliament and handing power back to a multi-party government.

The proclamation is expected to strip the king of his
formal title of supreme commander-in-chief and call the
administration Nepal government instead of His Majesty's
Government. The Royal Nepalese Army will be simply called Nepal

"The special proclamation will be presented in the
parliament on Thursday and passed," Home (interior) Minister
Krishna Prasad Sitaula said.

The parliament, restored by King Gyanendra who bowed to
last month's street protests and handed power back to political
parties, is due to meet at 3 p.m. (0915 hours GMT).

Sitaula did not give details of the proposals but party
officials said the resolution was expected to empower the
parliament to make laws relating to the king and put the 90,000
army under parliament's control.

The principal advisory body of the king, the Raj Parishad
or privy council, is also expected to be scrapped.

Analysts said parliament was expected to endorse the

"It is a parliament without opposition and the adoption of
the resolution will not be a problem," said Yubaraj Ghimire,
editor of the news magazine, Samay.

Political parties say the provisions of the existing
constitution and laws which contradict the resolution will be

"This cannot happen because such a resolution cannot have
the force of a law," Ghimire said.

"At most it can only be seen as a collective intent of the

The government on Thursday banned protests in the heart of
the capital and around key government buildings, two days after
hundreds of people protested in front of the central
secretariat building against the delay in clipping the king's

King Gyanendra came into direct confrontation with
political parties after February 1, 2005 when he sacked the
government and assumed full powers saying the government had
failed to quell an anti-monarchy Maoist revolt in which more
than 13,000 people have died.

The new government has reciprocated a rebel ceasefire which
the king had earlier rejected and the Maoists have agreed for
talks with the government.

The parties and the Maoists have also agreed to hold
elections to an assembly to draft a new constitution and decide
the future of the monarchy, a key demand of the Maoists.

On Wednesday, the United States said it remained skeptical
about the commitment of Maoist rebels to the ceasefire and
asked them to renounce violence and lay down their weapons.