Gyanendra to leave Narayanhiti palace on Jun 11

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Kathmandu, Jun 11: Nepal's last king Gyanendra will vacate the Narayanhiti palace on Wednesday to move to a modest hill resort on the outskirts of Kathmandu, ending the 240-year-old royal regime. He had requested the Nepalese government to provide 400 army personnel for his security, media reports said here today. ''Yesterday, the former king requested the government to provide him his existing close protection group for his security, once he leaves the palace,'' Kantipur quoted a highly-placed government official as saying. "But the government has rejected the request outright,'' he added.

''The close protection group comprises 400 specialised army personnel that have been responsible for the security of the king inside Narayanhiti and the group is considered the most specialised force in the country,'' security sources said. Sources said Mr Pashupati Bhakta Maharjan, former principal secretary to Mr Gyanendra, passed on the ex-monarch's request for specialised security to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala. Mr Maharjan met Mr Koirala at the latter's residence at Baluwatar to inform the government that Mr Gyanendra would leave the palace today.

The Prime Minister, reacting strongly to the request, said the government would not entertain any further requests.

''If he continues making demands, the government will be compelled to revoke whatsoever privileges have been given to him,'' the paper quoted Mr Koirala as warning him.

Mr Gyanendra would be provided only 75 security personnel, including 25 from the army under the command of a Major, after he left the palace. However, he complained to the government, through his emissary, that the security allocated to him was not enough.

Mr Gyanendra was handing over the Crown and Scepter to the government committee working on an inventory of properties inside the palace, today, just before he leaves for the Nagarjuna palace, which was nationalised and was given to him for use for the time being.

Sources said the committee has already assembled a team of experts to check whether or not the Crown to be handed over was genuine.

The committee would accept the Crown only after the experts certify that it was not a fake one as there were reports in the media of its sale in an auction in London.

The government has directed the committee to lock up the Crown in a room inside the palace and seal the lock. Special security would look after the priceless jewel-studded symbol of monarchy.

The government yesterday withdrew the army security that was provided to six families of the former royals, including that of Ms Shova Shahi, sister of Mr Gyanendra.

The Kathmandu Post quoted a senior official as saying they would be provided police security, and that too only if they requested the government for it.

All the forces that have been providing security have been brought under Army Headquarters, according to Ramindra Chhetri, spokesperson of the Nepali Army.

This was done as per a government decision of last week.


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