Maoists try to hide meeting with King's relative

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Kathmandu, May 24 (UNI) Maoist chairman Prachanda met with suspended King Gyanendra's son-in-law Raj Bahadur Singh at a remote location near here, which the party leaders were trying to keep confidential.

''It's not a big issue since our party was willing to meet the King to ask him to leave the palace soon,'' Maoist leader C P Gajurel said at a programme in Kathmandu.

But few hours later, he told the Kathmandu Post, ''I hadn't verified the news about the meeting between Prachanda and the King when I spoke at the Reporters' Club, but when I verified with our leaders, it turned out that the meeting hadn't taken place.'' It is said that the meeting was held on Thursday in Rasuwa, a remote district in north Kathmandu bordering China.

The Maoist leaders were saying that they wanted to meet Gyanendra to convince him to leave the palace.

Political analysts say that there was no point in trying to convince the King as he did not have a single representative elected in the last polls and nor any international support.

Constitutional expert Nilamber Acharya dismissed the speculation that the King had something up his sleeve.

''The King is powerless, he has no support from the political parties, the international community, the Nepali people or even the Nepal Army,'' Mr Acharya was quoted as saying in the popular Nepali Times newspaper.

Gyanendra had left the Narayanhity palace for Nagarjun, a hilltop forest resort summer palace near Kathmandu, which was also nationalised.

But it was not clear whether he would return to the palace before the Constitutional Assembly meeting on May 28, which would declare the formal implementation of the abolition of monarchy in the Himalayan nation.

UNI XC RJ GC1459

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