Top Nepal minister urges world to back king's coup
KATHMANDU (AFP) - The senior minister in Nepal's new cabinet named by King Gyanedra urged the world to back the monarch's seizure of power as the only way to end a bloody Maoist revolt and restore lasting democracy.
"The concern of the international community is about the future of multiparty democracy in Nepal ... the king's commitment to multi-party democracy is total," Foreign Minister Ramesh Nath Pandey told AFP in an interview Friday.
"The world community ... has united against terrorism which the international community takes as a threat to human civilisation," he added.
But until the Maoist insurgency is halted, "multi-party democracy cannot come back on track," said Pandey, a former journalist known for his pro-royalty views but who has never before served in active politics.
"We have learnt the lessons after paying a heavy price that without restoring peace and security, we cannot hold elections," he said.
Gyanendra dismissed prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and his government Tuesday, saying they had failed to crush the revolt and hold a ballot and clamped emergency rule on the nation sandwiched between India and China..
He said he would rule the impoverished kingdom as "chairman" of a 10-man cabinet and pledged to restore multi-party democracy within three years.
Pandey said the government believes the nine-year-old Maoist insurgency "can be solved permanently through negotiation and it's high time for Nepal to end this problem."
"The world community ... have united against terrorism which the international community takes as a threat to human civilisation," he added.
The Maoists, however, who are battling to topple the monarchy and install a communist republic in an increasingly savage conflict that has claimed over 11,000 lives, have given no signs of willingness to talk.
After the king seized power, Maoist leader Prachanda denounced him as a "national betrayer" and called for a broad political front with those opposing "feudal autocracy."
Asked what new home minister Dan Bahadur Shahi had meant by "alternate steps" if the Maoists refused to hold peace talks, Pandey would only refer to the king's proclamation.
Without naming the Maoists, Gyanendra had urged "all those who have gone astray, taking up arms against the nation and people ... to return to the mainstream of national politics peacefully."
At the same time, the king warned, "any nefarious attempts at disturbing peace and security and hindering efforts at making democracy meaningful will not be tolerated either by the nation or people."
Pandey's interview came as former Nepal prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala called in a statement on Nepal's citizens "to take to the streets to restore the sovereign power of the people and safeguard the constitution of 1990."
The appeal by Koirala, who served four times as premier of the Himalayan nation and is under house arrest, was the first call for demonstrations by a mainstream politician since Gyanendra dismissed Deuba's government.